(11/11/02 7:52:15 pm)
| The Trinity Campaign|
After some debate, I've decided to go ahead and post my campaign storyline to date. The consensus seems to be that people enjoy reading these, but generally prefer reading them as threads on this board, rather than via a link to a web site.
Since this campaign has so far spanned four published modules (Sunless Citadel, Forge of Fury, RTTTOEE, and now the Banewarrens), I am going to only post the actual text of those chapters that deal directly with RTTTOEE. To detail the events leading up to this module (Sunless Citadel & Forge of Fury), I will be writing up a brief summary (including as few spoilers as possible) before starting to post the actual RTTTOEE chapters. Since my group is now starting the Banewarrens (which I've substituted for the CRM, in terms of the plot and levels), I will be posting those summaries in the Banewarrens forum, to avoid cross-adventure spoilers. When the group finishes the BW, I'll pick up the storyline over here again.
Before beginning, I'd just like to publicly thank each and every poster on this board for the limitless depth of contribution and imagination, as well as Monte himself for producing some of the best adventures I've had the pleasure to DM. Without a doubt, this has been the most thoughtful, intrictate, detailed, and enjoyable campaign I've yet run. Kudos to everyone.
Introduction to the campaign to follow...
(11/11/02 9:52:20 pm)
| Re: The Trinity Campaign|
Introduction - The Characters
What follows is the first of two postings serving to introducing the Trinity campaign. This first section details the characters involved in the story. The next posting will summarize their exploits leading up to the events dealing directly with the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil.
The characters' current stats can be found at the campaign website:
* * *
Minaret - human female rogue/sorcerer
A wanderer since she was a young girl, Minaret is the definition of independence. Although she possesses a dark, seductive beauty, she has been a loner for a long time. Her latent sorcerous abilities manifested themselves when she was very young, before she could control them. As a result, she was outcast from her family and community, and forced to rely on herself at an early age. Instead of despairing after being shunned from the light of community and fellowship, she embraced the night, feeling at home in the shadows. Completely alone, she mastered her sorcery so that it would work for her rather than against her, while honing her skills of stealth. At turns seductive, cynical, and strategic, Minaret is slow to trust others... but once that trust is given, she is loyal to the death.
Ian McLaren - human male fighter
To Ian, a weapon is more than a tool or a means to make a living; rather, a weapon can be an object of art more prized than all the dragons hoards combined. This is hardly surprising, as he was raised in the ranks of the Koor-Mah-Lao Legion, an organization dedicated to the study, craft, and artisanship of arms and armor. Because his father is a high-ranking member of the Legion, he was trained from the start on the construction and use of the highest-quality weapons and combat tactics. Both he and his father fully expected him to be inducted into the Legion upon passing his test of manhood. However, when the time of his test came, he failed the test. Ian, feeling he had let down his father as much as or more than himself, set out to redeem himself by embarking on a quest of self-betterment. He would devote his life to the pursuit and study of the finest blades and armor found in the land. He would return a master of the art of combat, and prove himself worthy to both the Legion and his father.
Fletcher Green - human male ranger
Fletcher was raised in Highfolk, north of the lands of Furyondy. His father was a tradesman, and Fletcher had always planned to follow in his footsteps. However, he had always been close to nature, an affinity reinforced by his mother, an herbalist, and a childhood elvish friend named Sithra. His life's course was changed when a group of maraudering gnolls rampaged his village and the surrounding countryside, killing his friend Sithra's parents. The senselessness of the violence made a lasting impression on Fletcher. In the hope that he could help perform some greater good to offset the evil, he joined the Rangers of the North. The Rangers were a loose organization of men and women whose self-appointed duty was the protection and care of those living in lands where organized protection was harder to find. With their help, Fletcher dedicated his life to the upholding of law and goodness.
Richter - human male cleric of Boccob
All that is divine is magical, and all that is magic is divine. That is the key phrase to those who follow Boccob, and to Richter, those words are ones to live by. Called to the faith at a very young age, Richter grew up in the Temple of Maeth, a large but somewhat remote bastion of the church's teachings in rural Furyondy. His master, Eolus Kilbain, tought him the secrets and study of magic, and how through Boccob it was interweaved with all of existence. By the time he was a young man, he knew more about magic than many sages four times his age. The time had come for him to become one of the Unfound, the Wandering Caste of the Temple of Maeth. The Unfound are clerics who search ceacelessly for magical knowledge which they can present to representatives of the Cruciform Order, the High Caste of the Temple of Maeth.
Vangkor - half-orc wizard
A study in contradiction, Vangkor is both the thesis and antithesis of the adventurers he travels with. Like Minaret, he is an outcast... but rather than rejecting society, he is determined to rise above it, to show that despite prejudices he can contribute as much or more than others of his race. As with Ian, he takes pride in skill and craftmanship, but his study is the secrets of the arcane, rather than the blade. He shares in Fletcher's belief that those of evil intent should be stopped; however, he believes that organized society can produce just as many evils as the savage lands. And she shares completely in Richter's love affair with the arcane; yet believes that its power is not beholden to external divinity, but can and should be available to anyone who can master the knowledge (for good or evil, unfortunately).
(11/13/02 9:25:00 pm)
| Re: The Trinity Campaign|
As promised, here is the first part of the chronicle of my campaign's heroes leading up to the events surrounding the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil.
WARNING: Slight spoilers ahead for the adventure The Sunless Citadel
Introduction - Part i - The Beginning
It was in the month of Reaping when the strange confluence of events would occur to bring our heroes together. Rumors had reached many ears of a magical apple that was auctioned off in the village of Oakhurst each summer by a tribe of goblins. This apple was rumored to have magical curative properties on those who consumed it. This auction drew visitors to the village from far and wide, each hoping to profit or benefit from the apple's magic.
It was the widespread rumor of this apple's magic that led Richter, cleric of Boccob, to the village. His master, Amgerit, had instructed him to go to the village and learn all he could about the apple. If possible, he was to obtain this apple at the auction and bring it back to the Temple of Maeth for further study. As this was his first real assignment as one of The Wandering, he took the assignment very seriously, and was determined to prove his worth by returning with the apple.
On a similar mission was the wizardress Tara. A student at the College of Wizardry, she had also been sent to investigate the mystery. The College and the Temple of Maeth were aware of each other, and often even worked together on issues surrounding all things arcane. However, neither organization knew the other had any interest in this particular endeavor.
The monk Elakshi sought the apple for a very different reason: her mentor lay dying back at the monastery, victim of a rare wasting disease which had no known cure. He had been like a father to her as she grew up, and it was her hope that this apple could restore him to health.
Neither academe nor altruism brought the mysterious Minaret to Oakhurst. She had been alone and on the road for most of her life, and knew that only the foolish did not try to seize an opportunity when it arrived. This apple might fetch a high price at a private auction to wealthy bidders, if she were to acquire it. At the very least, there would hopefully be an abundance of rich folk whose eyes were not as trained on their purses as they should be...
These four individuals, unknown to each other before now, each took a room at the inn in Oakhurst. During their stay they each received a note summoning them to a private meeting behind the inn at midnight. This meeting is where they would meet for the first time, and meet Kerowyn Heucrele, the wealthy owner of the Mercantile. She wished to hire them to locate her son and daughter, Sharwyn and Talgen. The two had ventured into the Sunless Citadel, where the goblins who sold the apple were rumored to live. They had not returned, and Kerowyn promised a healthy reward for their return, or at least news of their whereabouts. The group accepted.
Their adventures in the Sunless Citadel began a bit rough, when they were all laid low while fighting a nasty water mephit in the ruins. They awoke as prisoners of a band of kobolds who inhabited the upper levels of the Citadel. The cheiftress of the Kobolds, Yusdrayl, agreed to return their normal gear if they would retrieve their pet baby white dragon from the goblins. The goblins were apparently rivals of the kobolds, and the two were in constant battle over territory. The party, using only bare-bones equipment, managed to defeat the goblins and find the dragon. In so doing they discovered a lower level to the Citadel, which housed a grove tended by an evil druid. This druid, named Belak the Outcast, was the one who really ran the goblins, providing them with the magical fruit each year.
The kobolds seemed to have no interest in going below, content with their territorial victory over the goblins, so after collecting their original gear from the kobolds the party ventured below on their own. There they discovered that the apple was the single fruit of a large, evil tree growing underground named the Gulthias Tree. The seeds of this trees fruit, when planted, grew into twisted, evil creatures that resembled thorny bushes, called twig-blights. What's more, the Gulthias Tree actually could transform living creatures into hideous Supplicants, beings wholly subservient to the evil of the Tree and its master. At least one of the two Heucrele twins, Sharwyn, had already been turned into such a Supplicant, along with another of her adventuring companions. The Outcast Belak was trying to build an army of these creatures, so that he could overthrow the druidic order from which he had been banished. The party, sensing the evil of this plan, engaged Belak, his minions, and the twig blights in battle. It was close; the entire party was overpowered and captured, but in the battle Belak was killed. it was Elakshi the monk who saved the party, feigning death and managing to revive her fallen comrades at the last minute. Together they overcame the remaining minions of Belak, and burned the Gulthias tree to the ground... after first removing the single apple growing from its branches.
Apart from the apple itself, the party discovered another mysterious item: on the body of Belak was found a violet stone amulet, with a spiraling depression carved into it. Upon magical inspection it radiated a tremendous amount of magic, along with more evil than any in the party had ever encountered before. Certain it was an evil artifact of some kind, the party stowed it away for safe-keeping, little knowing that the finding of this object would start in motion a chain of events which would change their lives forever...
(11/13/02 9:42:06 pm)
| Re: The Trinity Campaign|
Introduction - Part ii - The Forge of Fury
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the adventures The Sunless Citadel and The Forge of Fury
The group decides to leave the Sunless Citadel, lugging the body of Sharwyn to take back to the Hucreles. On their way up, the citatel seems strangely deserted... not a Kobold in sight. However, just before exiting the citadel they are accosted by what appear to be most of the remaining kobolds. Yusdrayl tells the party that they cannot leave, as they know too much about where the kobolds live. The party asks what happened to Meepo. She laughs and says that he and few others tried to rebel against the group and were killed. She then demands the party surrender and give up their weapons. The party, of course, refuses, and a pitched battle ensues. The majority of the kobolds are dealt with easily, but Yusdrayl causes a few problems, releasing a group of skeletons waiting in an alcove the party didn't explore, then dashing outside while the party deals with the skeletons. The group plays hide and seek with her for a bit before Tara uses her familiar to determine that she's hiding atop the partially-destroyed walls of the building itself, having spider climbed up there. With a few well aimed shots, the group takes her down (literally, splat!).
After recovering and searching the bodies, the group finds a key that looks to open the locked door with the keyhole in the dragon mouth. It does, and the party briefly explores further. They encounter a room that looks like a large gameboard with stone statues for pieces, and then a large pit that proves to be a bit of a challenge to navigate. Opposite the pit is a room with a sarcophagus. The party has a brief fight with the imp guardian of the room before it flees, warning them that they have doomed themselves to the wrath of the "dragon priest".
The meaning of this becomes all too clear when they open the sarcophagus. Inside is a troll, preserved somehow and wearing priestly ceremonial gear. It viciously attacks the party. After several harrowing rounds of combat in which the party discover its nasty regenerative properties, they manage to slay the creature and loot the chamber.
Deciding enough is enough, the party leaves the Citadel and returns to Oakhurst. The journey is made without incident, and the party receives a hero's welcome, and the Hucreles, while saddened by the death of their children, are glad that the party was able to return Sharwyn's body and Talgen's ring. They are paid twice the fee commissioned, and invited to attend the funeral. The town mayor is likewise impressed with the characters, as they have rid the town of the pesky goblins and a possible kobold threat. There's still the issue of rogue twig blights roaming the countryside (from previous plantings of the apples obtained from the goblins), but disaster seems to have been averted. Later, while attending the Hucrele's funeral, Kerowyn Hucrele gives them a lead that Baron Althon, an associate of hers in the nearby town of Blasingdell might have a job for them, if they're available. The party thanks her, and they part having obtained the goodwill of the Hucrele clan and the town in general.
They first visit Elakshi's monastery, where his tutor lies dying. They feed him the apple, and, as described, it completely cures him of the wasting disease. The core is kept, and brought to Tara's college of wizardry, where they can study it. Although Richter was originally commissioned to find the apple, the temple of Boccob is much more interested in the violet magical amulet with the conch-sigil found on the body of Belak in the Sunless Citadel. The temple has a good relationship with the college of wizardry (both highly involved in the study of the arcane), and often swap items for study. After a week, the temple and the college will trade, allowing the temple to study the apple and the college to study the amulet.
The party, having no other pressing assignments, gets leave to investigate the lead given to them by Kerowyn Hucrele. They make off for Blasingdell, about a day's walk north. They find Baron Althon's estate just outside of town: a sprawling ranch with a good-sized house set back from the main road. They are greeted at the front door by the Baron himself, who welcomes them inside. He explains that he is looking to commission a party to locate several lost blades of great historical interest and value to add to his collection. According to legend, one hundred years ago the great dwarven smith Durgeddin the Black held a secret stronghold called the Glitterhame, located beneath a rocky hill named the Stone Tooth. The fortress was raided by an enemy army of orc tribes; all the dwarves within were slain, and the fortress looted. While various goblinoid bands have inhabited the fortress since then, rumors still abound regarding the legendary blades that are still located in the fortress.
Althon shows the party the dwarven smith's mark (a rune looking vaguely like a D), and tells them he is willing to pay 500 gold pieces above market value for each recovered blade with the marking; the group can keep whatever other spoils they find. The party thinks this is a fair commission, and accepts the offer.
The unlikely heroes spend a night in Blasingdell at the Griffon's Nest inn, and make their preparations, purchasing basic supplies to travel north to the Stone Tooth. The night passes uneventfully, and in the morning they set off. It is about three days' travel, through the forest and fieldlands to the north of the town. Being off the main road, the party encounters no travelers, and eventually spot a steep, tall hill rising to a prominent bare knob of rock-- the Stone Tooth. A thin spire of smoke rises from some unseen point high on the hill's slopes, and the party makes out a steep, narrow road or track that runs back and forth across the face of the mountainside. The party decides to take this road, following its widing path up the side of the hill.
After an hour or so, the path climbs up one last steep switchback toward a bare shoulder of rock. The hillside climbs up steeply on the party's right and drops away precipitously on their left. Scattered about lie debris and rubbish, confirming the idea that the place is inhabited. A wide ledge is formed ahead before doubling back into the side of the mountainside. The party notices two bestial humanoids in scale armor standing there, looking more or less over the valley below. They don't immediately notice the party, and the party overhears them speaking. They speak a gutteral language, and Elakshi understands it: they are orcs.
Tara and Richter quietly drop back around the corner, while Minaret and Elakshi creep up to try and quietly dispatch the two guards. Unfortunately Elakshi steps on a piece of debris, and the two look over and shout, "Hey!" Quickly, Minaret rushes up and slashes at one. It falls over the edge of the cliff with a shriek, and Elakshi bounds up and breaks the neck of the other. The others move forward quickly, but no other guards immediately appear. Cautiously the party moves into the entrance.
A long tunnel with climbs upward, leading to an entry hall where a set of steps lead up to a pair of large stone doors standing ajar. The doors are enough apart for the party to slip through the gap. Beyond is a large chamber lit by torches on either side of the entrance. A wide chasm lies in the center of this room, spanned by a dangerous-looking rope bridge. The far side of the chasm is in darkness, but the group can barely make out two natural stone pillars and some other door exiting the chamber. Elakshi starts across the bridge, but quickly two orcs begin firing arrows from the far side, hiding behind the pillars. Minaret and Elakshi cross the bridge to engage them, and Tara starts across, when several more orcs emerge from secret doors on the lit side. A dangerous crossfire ensues, but with the help of several celestial badgers summoned by Tara and a spiritual weapon conjured by Richter, the rear guard is driven back while Elakshi and Minaret take out the guards on the far side. The group quickly makes it to the far side and moves through the door.
Beyond they find a tunnel leading to an intersection of cave-like tunnels. In one of these they discover two human prisoners of the orcs. Naming themselves Geradil and Courana, these two farmers are brother and sister, and were apparently abducted by the orcs during a raid. They plead with the party to free them. Minaret obliges by picking the lock, but the party is unwilling to accompany them out. They do draw out a brief map of the path to the exit, and try to give them enough information to escape. Thanking the party, the two make a break for their freedom.
Following the network of tunnels for a bit, the party wanders about, finding a room with a large cookfire, whose smoke escapes through a large chimmney in the ceiling (apparently the source of the smoke they spotted earlier). They then find a storeroom containing a well and numerous boxes, crates, barrels, and other goods that look to have been stolen on raids. A tunnel to the south leads to a dead-end; a secret door is easily located, which the party opens and passes through.
Beyond is a hallway leading to another secret door; beyond the second door the party finds a room with a smoky cooking fire and numerous skulls suspended from the ceiling by fraying ropes. Three female orcs stand ready, one of which wears a ragged black robe. A battle breaks out: two of the females fight with the party, while the black-robed orc casts spells at Richter. The three are defeated, and though Richter succumbs to a fear spell, he is collared and subdued until it wears off. Searching the room seems to indicate the robed orc was a cleric of Gruumsh, god of the orcs.
To the north the party enters a large, open chamber. The far end of the chamber is blackened and charred, and several burnt skeletons and axe-blades without handles lie near a door exiting north. An iron gate blocked with straw pallets lies west, and in the center of the room a large rift exists with stairs leading down. A faint buzzing noise can be heard from the rift. Richter moves to explore the rift. The buzzing noise grows louder, and out fly four small creatures that resemble a cross between a bat and a mosquito. Their small size is deceiving: two of them batten on Richter, draining an alarming amount of blood. Two are shot down, but crawl on the ground towards the cleric. The other party members rush out to try and stamp the creatures out, but they are nimble even near death, and manage to lock on to Minaret and Elakshi with their proboscii, draining them before expiring from the effort. Meanwhile, the other creatures detach from Richter and fly off, seeming to have drink their fill of Richter's blood. They are brought down as well. Badly weakened, the party decides to spend the night in the hallway leading to the orc shaman's room.
The next morning the party heals up, and decides to venture down the rift in the chamber to the north. The steps go down a long ways, bypassing a small stream running into a fissure to the north and then running along the wall of a large open cavern. This area of the underground complex is quite beautiful, consisting of glittering gemstones and natrual rock formations. Unfortunately, the beauty is decieving: the party is surprised by four more of the winged blood-sucking creatures that fly down suddenly from the high ceiling above.They group is further weakened, only managing to dispatch one of the creatures while the rest drink their fill and fly off. They are in pretty poor shape, but since they just rested they decide to press on, despite their weakened condition. This proves to be disasterous.
Following a passage exiting the large cavern to the northeast, the party enters another irregular chamber with many exits and some sort of caged area at the far end. A heavy animal smell lingers in the air, and below that the scent of something fouler. Before the party can act, two creatures suddenly detach themselves from the walls where they had been hiding chameleon-like. They appear to be bipedal lizards armed with javelins and longspears: troglodytes!. They emit a nauseating stench that strongly affects poor Richter (already severely weakened from blood loss). One of the creatures launches a javelin at the party, while the other rushes to the cage to the north. As the party engages in combat, the second trog opens the cage and the party hears a low, savage growl of something VERY BIG. A large, furry brown shape barrels suddenly from the cage, charging the group: a vicious, hungry-looking brown bear! The trogs quickly become the least of the party's worries, as the bear causes horrifying amounds of damage with its claws and bite. Things look bad for the party, with Elakshi unconscious, Minaret nearly so. As the bear moves in to devour Richter (who has just prevented Elakshi from dying), Minaret frantically cries out in common and undercommon, "We surrender!" The trogs pause, training their spears on Minaret and Tara, while the bear growls and bares its teeth inches from Richter's face. One trog croaks to Minaret to throw all her equipment, including her clothing to the floor; she obliges. The other trog shouts for Tara to do the same, but Tara is not ready to surrender: she casts invisibility. Immediately the trog barks a command, and the bear lunges forward, bowling over Richter and racing towards Tara. But Tara gets the drop and vanishes, and the bear swipes at empty air. It still has her scent, however, and as Tara flees madly up the steps to the upper level the bear gives chase, roaring. The moment the bear leaves, Minaret and Richter turn on their captors, fighting desperately. Elakshi is revived, and the fierce battle resumes.
Tara, meanwhile, runs past the stream on up the steps, the bear right on her heels. She is hit twice, but her invisibility helps her dodge several blows and keeps her ahead of the angry animal. She wills up a last burst of energy and runs as fast as she can. Gasping, she races out the rift in the upper chamber and into the shaman's room. She quickly turns, expecting to be mauled. The bear is nowhere to be seen: it must have given up the chase. She rests for a moment, catching her breath and trying to decide what to do next.
She decides to investigate the doorway in the rift chamber where the charred
bodies lie. Unfortunately, the cause of their demise becomes all too clear, as she accidentally triggers an ancient trap that covers her with alchemists fire! The hapless mage, being all alone, is consumed by the firey substance and expires.
The rest of the party manages to take out the remaining troglodytes and quickly hides in the bear cage. Not a moment too soon, for the bear returns. It angrily tries to attack them through the bars of the cage, but after being peppered by multiple slings and other missile fire, it quits and lopes off. It takes quite a while before the party, very low on resources and near death, summons enough courage to venture forth from the cage. They retreat back up the stairs unassailed, where they discover Tara's body. They haul it back into the orc shaman's room, and hole up there for several days, blocking both exits.
After resting for three days unassaulted, the party hears shouting orc voices coming from the entrance to their room. The door is beat upon, and the party readies for battle. The door flies open, and the party faces a human male, bearing several swords and breathing heavily. He warns that several orcs are hot on his trail. Sure enough, quickly five orcs come charging in after the lone human. However, they are not prepared to encounter the entire party, and are dispatched easily.
After the battle, the newcomer introduces himself as Fletcher, a ranger from the North who came to investigate the deaths of some friends: a family he knew was slain by the orc raiders. He tracked the raiders here by himself, and was attacked and quickly outnumbered. He was fleeing deeper into the complex to hide and possibly take them out by stealth when he ran into the party. The group offers to join forces, and the ranger agrees that this would be wise.
Deciding to take care of the orc threat first, the party delays venturing further into the caverns below and explores more of the upper level. They run into no orcs immediately, but do find a statue that is trapped (Minaret finds and disarms it). Near the statue is a door with a skull on it. The group tries to force it open, but it takes multiple attempts and makes quite a racket. Thus the inhabitants of the room are ready for the party: a great ogre, with two pet wolves! The ogre, named Great Ulfe and apparently the leader of the orc tribe, engages the party in combat, doing huge amounts of damage with his axe while the wolves cunningly trip up opponents. The heroes carry the day however, and the chief and his two pets are slain. This battle has taken another huge toll on the party, so they rest up again for two more days.
The party is undisturbed while resting in the room (they shut the door, despite the horrid stench of the ogre's domicile); however, they do hear occasional hushed voices and movements of orcs in the passage beyond. When the group emerges again from the room, they find the complex deserted of orcs; many rooms that must have been barracks appear to have been deserted quite suddenly. Finally, they find a large barracks room where they encounter the remaining twelve orcs awaiting them all together, along with the second-in-command, an orc cleric. A long, drawn-out battle ensues. Fletcher proves himself to be quite skilled in combat, wielding his longsword and shortsword simultaneously in a flurry of blades. The orc cleric does substantial damage with spells before he is wounded to the point where he flees through a secret door from the chamber. At the end, three orcs are still alive, and only Fletcher remains on his feet, near death himself. However, a pile of bodies surrounds him, and the orcs, having seen him dispatch four creatures in less than a minute, decide that it's a stand-off. They sneer that the ranger will die alone, and escape out the back. Fletcher doesn't think to follow them, but quickly binds the remaining party members' wounds and drags them back yet again to the stinking ogre's chamber where they can recuperate.
After another two days worth of recovery, the party sets forth again. It becomes apparent that the orcs have abandoned the fortress, as no more are encountered. The party does find a gnome named Erky Timbers, who was held prisoner by the orcs. He doesn't know anything about the rest of the fortress, having been abducted by a raid on the main road some miles west. He thanks the party for freeing him and departs.
The group decides to resume exploring the lower caverns. They cautiously descend the stairs (again being attacked by stirges), and follow the side passage where the stream runs down to the bear's chamber. There are no sign of the trogs, and the cavern is quiet. They attempt to pass through the chamber, when suddenly a loud clatter of metal objects falling to the ground alters them. The bear cage has been opened, though no troglodyte can be seen. What can be heard, however, is the growl of the now-awakened bear within the cage! It rushes forward to attack the party once again. This time the party has better luck, and after taking a few nasty hits from the bear, they manage to slay the fierce beast.
After investigating, it appears the bear cage was booby-trapped so that opening the cage would cause a pile of scrap metal to crash to the ground, awakening the bear. The question is, who set off the trap? Fletcher uses his tracking ability, and follows a pair of reptile-like tracks back to a stream in the chamber containing the staircase leading down to this level. The stream appears to submerge beneath the western wall. The party figures that their unseen assailant must have come from this direction; however, they decide to defer further investigation until they have explored more of the cavern.
Moving north and east, they enter a large area containing many sarcophogi with dwarven runes on them. Of course the party must investigate these, as they're searching for dwarven blades. Fearfully they open one of the sarcophogi. Fortunately, luck is with them: the sarcophagus is not trapped, and the occupant (a crumbling dwarven skeleton) does not attack them. What's more, entombed with the skeleton is a masterwork warhammer bearing Durgeddin's mark. Feeling like they're finally getting somewhere, the party eagerly scoops it up and begins overturning all the other sarcophagi. While no traps are set off and they are not attacked, only two of the other sarcophagi contain remains, and none of them have weapons.
The edge of the sarcophagus area is a drop off into a huge chamber illuminated by many glowing fungi and mushrooms, with a path running down the middle. Not trusting either the path or the fungus, the part weaves its way across the chamber north of the path. They are approaching a large iron door at the east end when they are attacked suddenly by two hideous, many-tentacled creatures hidden in a rocky slope to the north. These creatures prove to be very difficult to defeat, employing the rocks as cover and ignoring blows from all but magical weapons. Elakshi, Fletcher, then Richter are taken down, and one of the creatures remains. Minaret, who is near unconsciousness, is startled by a sudden voice behind her asking if she needs any help. She quickly looks behind her to see a large looking fighter type wearing shiny half-plate and wielding a massive greataxe. She frantically tells him to engage the creature while she heals her companions. The fighter shrugs and wades in on the creature with his mighty blade, slicing it up quickly with only a few blows.
After the others are revived, they express their gratitude to the newcomer and ask if he'd like to join their party. He names himself Ian McLaren, and he's apparently come for reasons similar to the party, to seek the blades of Durgeddin, and readily joins forces with the group. The party rests up for a day and then continues exploring.
The door that they discovered at the east end of the illuminated chamber is massive, made of iron, and quite locked. Knowing better than to try breaking it down, Richter uses a knock spell to open the door. Beyond, a stair descends into a room with three ominous-looking statues. From beyond one of the room exits, the faint ringing sound of a hammer on anvil can be heard. Nervous about this, the party decides to continue exploring the level above before advancing further here.
Returning to the level above, the group explors a passage to the north, discovering a chamber with two skeletons covered in a yellowish, dusty mold. In the arms of one of the skeletons is a large gleaming sword. Fletcher's background in wilderness lore warns that this might be yellow mold, a particularly deadly form of fungus when disturbed. The group decides that while the sword is probably one of the blades they're looking for, they will come back later for it.
Exploration to the south leads to an underground stream, possibly the same one they saw earlier. They follow it upstream to find out; along the way they encounter a side-chamber where a lizard lies chained just out of reach of two chests. After somewhat botching an attempt at charming the beast, the group engages in combat with it. It's hardly defenseless, as it has a ten-foot-long sticky tongue to contend with. The party manages to defeat it, however, and finds some silver pieces and a couple potions in the chest. Continuing along the stream, they enter another large chamber. Before they can advance further, two troglodytes appear and attack the party, again emmitting a noisome stench. However, without a bear as backup, they are quickly taken care of by the party.
Further searching of the chamber reveals a door constructed of mud, which is broken down without too much effort. A narrow passage leads south, where they discover what must the lair of the troglodytes (the ceiling is only 5 feet in height). Their leader is a sorcerer commanding a giant lizard. However, what he has is magic power he makes up for in a lack of tactics. The troglodytes attack en-masse, but the party intelligently uses the entry tunnel as a bottleneck, and Ian shows quick reflexes, mowing the trogs down as they advance. The sorcerer and his lizard are soon dealt with as well. Within the group finds twelve trog hatchlings, which Minaret cheerfully dispatches (much to Fletcher's displeasure).
They then follow the stream leading to the trog lair in the opposite direction, and discover it opens into a slippery pool before falling into a sinkhole. The party discovers a stairway leading down, and find it emerges into a chamber into which the water from the sinkhole plunges into a swiftly-moving underground river. Two doors lead to a series of rooms containing nothing but debris and a dangerous gray ooze (which the party successfully detects and avoids). To the south is a stone bridge, but Richter doesn't trust it, and after debating a bit the party decides to return again to the level above and pursue the blade they discovered earlier. After some puzzling about how to avoid the fungus, they decide to employ magic to fetch the sword from the skeleton's grasp while outside the range of the deadly stuff. The blade indeed bears the mark of Durgeddin, bringing their booty count to two.
The party decides to rest before continuing with their explorations. Cautiously, they make their way back to the cage of the bear. Encountering nobody, they set up alternate watches and try to get some sleep. Their rest is undisturbed by creatures, but some of the party members sleep uneasily...
NEXT: The Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil begins...
(11/13/02 9:44:43 pm)
| great story..|
but I must warn you that Guthlias is a vampire (or at least replace Gutlias with Thrommel) of Nightspire Fang
(11/25/02 9:43:17 pm)
| Re: The Trinity Campaign|
Return to The Temple of Elemental Evil
Chapter 1(a) : The Dreams
The party decides to rest before continuing with their explorations. Cautiously, they make their way back to the cage of the bear. Encountering nobody, they set up alternate watches and try to get some sleep. Their rest is undisturbed by creatures, but some of the party members sleep uneasily...
Elakshi is laying in a soft bed, the likes of which she seems to have not enjoyed in quite some time. The soft, flickering light of a candle at her nightstand illuminates the familiar walls of her monastery, and all cares slip from her. She is safe in her bedroom, and in the morning she will arise and perform her exercises, perhaps breakfasting on some fresh fruit from the garden before attending to her daily routine.
Then there is a noise from the corner of the room. Startled, she glances over, and sees movement. There is something there. She squints, but cannot make it out in the fitful candlelight… it is nothing more than a darker shadow, and is now motionless. Fear engulfs her. Nothing should be in her room, and the fact that whatever it was stopped moving when she sensed its presence belies a sly intelligence. She holds her breath, but there is no sound… except maybe the soft sound of low breathing. Her heart pounds in her chest, and she fears it may explode. She wants to bound out of bed and attack this presence in the corner for scaring her so bad, but her limbs feel lethargic and weak, as if she hasn’t moved them in a long time. She is about to try and swing her legs out of bed to have a closer look, when the shadowy figure flies at her with terrifying quickness, still utterly silent. She sees a flash of a brownish-yellow garment, and the gleam of a dripping blade as it is drawn. She raises her hand protectively, and sees that it is withered and deeply veined, as if she has aged many years from her fright. Then she sees the flashing blur from the descending blade, and feels a deep burning pain in her abdomen, as if something had lit a fire inside of her. The pain grows, and she feels a dreadful burning sensation begin to spread to her chest. She tries in vain to catch a glimpse of the attacker’s face, but then the light from the candle becomes a bright glow that fills the world, washing away both the pain and her concern about her assailant...
Richter is crawling on his hands and knees along a narrow road. His hair hangs in his eyes, and sweat runs down his face. He feels dizzy and light-headed, as if any moment he might collapse with the effort of crawling. The gravelly stones of the road dig cruelly into his hands, which he notices are bloodstained. He seems to be wearing his official purple robes for some reason, and he is not wearing any armor… he could not bear its weight if he were. A long tear along one sleeve of the robe keeps causing him to stumble on it as he crawls. Something warm and wet is continuously flapping against the back of his neck, and he realizes with a detached sort of horror that it is his scalp. But he cannot stop crawling, for there is something he needs to find, something he hid off to the side of the road before whatever happened… happened. He must be near the spot… he recognizes that beech sapling off to the side. In fact, it’s right where that figure seems to crouching. He squints, but cannot make the figure out…
Then a boot slams down on his hand, emerging from the bottom of a light brown or muddy orange robe. He feels sharp, needle-like pain as the stones of the road bite into his palm, and looking up he sees a tall figure silhouetted against the too-bright sun. The figure’s arm is raised, holding something long and heavy aloft. Before Richter can voice a prayer to Boccob, the figure brings down his arm and the object in a vicious arc, and the world explodes in a flash of light...
The party rises the next morning, none having slept too well in the musky, bear-smelling cage. They begin rolling up their bedding when Richter feels a strange tingling at the base of his neck, and a presence in his mind. A voice speaks in his head, and he recognizes the voice as that of Eolus Kilbain, his immediate superior at the Temple of Maeth. "Richter: disaster has struck. You must return to the Temple immediately. Bring your companions, for this affects them as well." And with that, the voice is gone. He stands for a moment, pondering what has happened, and then begins to silently gather up his equipment.
Elakshi, meanwhile, has gotten the attention of the others and is describing her dream. The details are already fading, but she remembers being frightened and then attacked by something. She also remember the aged look of her hand, and wonders if whatever attacked her aged her somehow. The group is somewhat baffled, not knowing if this dream was a vision, a premonition, or just a plain old anxiety dream. Then they notice Richter packing up his equipment and lifting his pack, and ask him what's going on.
He replies that he was also visited by a dream. His recollection of the dream's details is also somewhat vague, but the Sending message he received is crystal clear in his head. After describing the dream and the message he received, he finishes with, "I have been summoned back to my temple, and am leaving right away."
The group is somewhat split on how to proceed at this point. Richter means to leave immediately. However, Elakshi wishes to do further exploration, and perhaps find more of the blades of Durgeddin. The party wavers undecisively for a moment, on the brink of being split up. Then Minaret and Richter vote to accompany Richter, stopping at Blasingdell to sell the two blades that they have found. As Blasingdell is on the way to his Temple, Richter has no problem with this, and Elakshi agrees to remain with the party. Ian mentions that part of his test to join the Legion was to recover a weapon of fine quality, and if the party has no problems, he would like to keep the warhammer the group found. The others have no objection this. They decide not to retrieve the body of the wizardress Tara, as they do not have the means to raise her in any case. They gear up, and set out immediately, exiting via the tunnel to the outside that they earlier discovered next to the bear cage.
The journey to Blasingdell is a three-day march. The weather seems to be cooperating, staying in the seventies, though it begins to cloud over. The group passes through the hilly plains surrounding the Stone Tooth without incident. They do not see any signs of the orcs they routed from the upper level. After a full day's march, they make camp for the night. They are not disturbed, and no dreams haunt their sleep.
The party continues their trek the next morning. After several hours, the plains give way to forest. They find and follow the rough path through the forest that they used on the journey north. The sky is still overcast, the group doesn't talk much, each member preoccupied in their own thoughts.
It is drawing close to the first break of the day's march when the party hears the crashing of underbrush off to the left of the trail, accompanied by the guttural shouting of some creatures. They look through the trees for the source of the ruckus, but the foliage is too dense to see anything.
Abruptly, the bushes at the edge of the trail explode, ejecting a single human male, dressed in a dark brown tunic and leather armor. His style of dress is very similar to Fletcher's. The man is wounded; drops of blood trickle from a deep gash on his forehead. He looks exhausted, as if he has been running a long time. He sees the party and stops, panting.
“Gn… gnolls… six… coming!”
The party hears the noises drawing close, and spread out, preparing for combat. Within seconds, the underbrush erupts a second time, this time all along the trail. Six tall, furry, mangy-looking creatures step onto the road. They have greenish-gray skin, a furry body, and a head like a hyena’s with a reddish-gray mane. They all wear a motley assortment of rag-tag scale mail armor and large shields. Each one grasps a battle-axe. They blink for a moment as they see their quarry accompanied by the others in the group, then snarl, and move to attack.
The battle is fierce but quick. The gnolls are cut down quickly, one after the other. The last survivor turns tail and runs back into the woods. Elakshi, using her superior speed, overtakes the fleeing creature and brings it low with her fists. She dispatches the unconscious creature before returning to the group.
After getting his breath back, the man that the gnolls were chasing thanks the party for their aid. He says his name is Trilon, one of the rangers from the north of Veluna. When asked why the gnolls were chasing him, he explains that he had been part of a group of seven rangers. His group had been ambushed by the gnolls, and he was the last survivor. He relates his story to the party:
“Actually, Fletcher, we were looking for you. As you know, your mother and father relocated to the small village of Ghest after you left home, and your father had established a good trade along the main road there. Roughly a week ago, the village was raided and burned by a maraudering band of gnolls. Now, let me quickly assure you that your parents are all right… they managed to escape during the attack, due to some quick thinking on your father’s part. However, fully half of the village burned down, and over a hundred civilians lost their lives. We decided not to stand for this.
“Seven of we rangers banded together to track these gnolls down, and to look for you so that you could be informed of what happened. We found that the gnoll band numbered about twenty-five; it was moving southward, just one of the many bands of gnolls that have been migrating south recently for some reason. We tracked this particular band forty miles south to this area, and were trying to determine how best to assault such a large band. However, the gnolls must have had scouts that we didn’t spot, as early this morning we were ambushed. All twenty-five of the foul creatures attacked us. Their fighting tactics, as you can see, are not terribly organized, but they take special care when preparing ambushes, and had the sheer force of numbers on their side. It was a massive battle; we killed nineteen of the creatures. However, they wiped out all of my companions; I fled after the last of my companions fell. These six remaining have been chasing me since early this morning.
“One last thing you should know, Fletcher: Before fleeing the scene of the battle, I took this necklace from around the neck of the leader of the gnolls.” He tosses to Fletcher a thin silver necklace with an opal set in it. “As your friend Sithra may have told you, her mother was wearing this the day she was killed. She has always sworn that the killer of her parents would possess it. I think that mystery may have been solved.”
Fletcher recognizes it immediately. Sithra, a female elf, is one of the few people he has counted as a close friend in his lifetime. Her parents had been brutally murdered three years ago; the murderer had never been discovered. The aid rendered to Sithra by the friendly rangers during this time had been a big part of Fletcher's decision to become a ranger himself. He was glad that the death of his friend's parents had been avenged, but now he finds himself facing a dilemma: he feels that Sithra deserves to be informed, and given the necklace (which is her birthright); however, this would mean abandoning his new companions. Fortunately, Trilon senses his predicament; since he must return to the north immediately, he offers to deliver the necklace and the information to Sithra personally. Gratefully, Fletcher agrees, and Trilon departs, thanking the party once again.
The party searches the bodies of the gnolls, but nothing very valuable can be found. Gnolls, as a rule, tend to equip themselves with whatever rag-tag gear they can find, and this band is no exception. The party manages to scrounge a few pieces of gold, but for the most part ignore the creatures' battered equipment. After tending their own bruises and cuts, the party continues their own journey.
The forest thins out, becoming more isolated wooded patches surrounded by farmland. The group is entering more hospitable, inhabited lands. They decide that first they will stop at Callitrava, Elakshi's monastery, followed by Blasingdell, where they will deliver Durgeddin's blades, before moving on to the Temple of Maeth.
By mid-day they enter the outer gardens of Callitrava. The grounds are well-tended, with many varieties of exotic plants. A babbling brook winds through the gardens and the simple yet beautiful buildings about the monastery. However, the peacefulness of the grounds seem to be overlying something else; the party sees several groups of monks moving swiftly from place to place, talking in low voices. One passing monk notices the party, and approaches them. He is approximately Elakshi's age, and dressed in similar simple garb. He grasps Elakshi's hand in greeting, and nods to the others. "Greetings, Elakshi, and welcome to your companions. It is well that you have returned, though I am afraid that bad news awaits you. Your master has been assassinated."
Elakshi is aghast, and begins investigating at once. He learns that his master was found dead in his own bed on the morning of Goodmonth the fourth. He had been stabbed in the thorax by a short, curved blade, most likely some sort of dagger. Though the placement of the wound was deadly, and most likely killed the elderly monk outright, traces of poison were found in his body as well. A search had been made, but no clues had yet been found as to who had performed the assassination (or why).
Elakshi searches the room, aided by his companions. He discovers that the room had not been broken into; however, Fletcher finds a set of humanoid tracks approaching and leaving the window to Elakshi's master's room. The tracks lead away south, in the general direction of Blasingdell before being lost. Elakshi examines the area surrounding the bed closely, and suddenly recalls his dream on the night of the attack: he now makes the connection that the dream must have been a vision of the attack upon his master. This greatly distresses Richter, as he recalls similar aspects to his unsettling dream. The one thing in common appears to be the yellow/brown robes worn by the assailants in both dreams. Neither the group nor the monks of Callitrava have any doubt that these visions were accurate; yet none can think of who these sinister assailants might be.
While Elakshi continues his investigations, the party freshens up and has a quick meal of fresh fruit and honey bread. As the day is drawing to a close, they decide to spend the night.
The following morning, Elakshi announces to the group that he has been asked to remain at the monastery, to assist in the investigation and resolve any unfinished business his master might have been involved in. The rest of the group understands, and wishes him well. They then depart for Blasingdell.
After a half-day's travel, the party arrives in Blasingdell. They replenish some of their supplies, and then travel to the south side of town, to Baron Althon's ranch. The wealthy noble is home, and greets the adventurers warmly. They present the bastard sword that they have recovered (Ian had kept the warhammer, as agreed), and recount their adventures in Durgeddin's old fortress. The Baron expresses some surprise that they only managed to locate one of the legendary weapons; the party replies that their explorations were cut short. The Baron says he understands, and he will likely charter another group to seek any other blades in the lower levels of the forge. He pays the party 1500 gold pieces for the bastard sword, a welcome addition to the groups meager coffers. As the party makes ready to depart, he mentions an odd occurrence that he nearly forgot: "About a week ago, there was a strange individual came by asking about you. Well, about you three, anyway,” he says, nodding his head at Elakshi, Minaret, and Richter. “He wanted to know if you’d passed through this way. I didn’t care for the sight of him, personally, so I told him I hadn’t seen you, and asked why he wanted to know. He answered a bit evasively, saying that you had something of his and he needed it back. He was dressed in an orangish-brown robe, but I didn’t get a good look at his face (it was after sunset, and a foggy night). When he got on his horse and rode back to the main road, I noticed that there were a few others on horses waiting for him. They rode off with him towards the east, away from the road. I hope I did the right thing, but I just didn’t trust him.” The party is disturbed by this account, but thanks the Baron for his discretion.
They strike off cross-country, towards the Temple of Maeth (noting uneasily that this appears to be the same path the mysterious robed riders took). It draws near to nightfall as the group arrives at the Temple. Ian and Fletcher are somewhat surprised by the Temple's appearance: instead of a single, traditional stone structure, it is actually a large, walled encampment, with many buildings within it. The buildings themselves are almost tent-like, with walls covered in canvasses colored crimson. A large central tent, colored purple (the hue of the dress of Boccob's followers), rises above the others in the center of the camp. Perhaps not unexpectedly at this point, Richter notes that the camp seems on high alert. Normally there are two guards stationed at the entrance; now four fully-armed clerics stand watch, keeping a sharp eye out, while several other mounted groups patrol the camp's perimeter. The guards at the entrance recognize Richter at once, and inform him that he and his companions are awaited inside by Eolus Kilbain. They allow the group to enter with their weapons, though they note that Richter will be responsible for their behavior.
The party makes their way to the main "tent". Richter learns from one of the acolytes that Eolus awaits them in the main Library. He leads them to a side chamber, and pulls open the canvas door to reveal a large, rounded room, with nearly every wall lined with filled bookshelves. There are many individual desks arranged throughout the library, that are usually occupied by studying sages and clerics. Today, however, the only occupants of the library are seated at the huge oaken table reserved for conferences. Richter recognizes most of them: Eolus Kilbain, Richter’s immediate superior, is seated at the far end. Next to him sits a cleric of the Cruciform Order. On Eolus’s other side are seated two individuals dressed in the garb of the college of wizardry; one is an older human, while the other is a half-orc. The half-orc looks startlingly out-of-place, especially as he is dressed in excruciatingly neat and clean garments and wears a delicate glass eyepiece. Four of the seats at the table are empty.
All rise as the group enters, and Eolus greets them. “Good return, Richter, and welcome, friends, to the Library of Boccob. Your presence is appreciated. It is hoped that you may be able to assist us in a matter of grave importance. Allow me to introduce those present. To my right is Amgerit Maelochtar, our resident Diviner. Our guests are the wizard Itollan, and his understudy Vangkor,” he says, gesturing to the human and half-orc wizard, respectively. “They join us as this matter involves the College of Wizardry as much as it does us. Before getting to business, we would like to know of your experiences to the north.”
At this, the wizard Itollan speaks up. “Yes, tell us what befell the wizardress Tara?” The group stammers a bit, explaining that she fell during their explorations, and assuring Itollan that she was brave and helped the group tremendously. Itollan is not exactly pleased, but he says he understands the risks taken by any adventurers. He sits down, looking troubled, as the party recaps their adventures in the forge once more.
When they are finished, Eolus nods. “It appears that you have done well for yourselves, though not without price. It is unfortunate about the wizardress’ demise, as it is normally against our dictum to raise those not of our faith when not undertaking official business.” At this Itollan’s brow clouds, but he says nothing. Without pause, Eolus continues. “However, the situation that confronts us now has complicated things, and I feel we will be working with our esteemed wizardly neighbors more closely for a while.
“As you remember, you returned from your investigation in Oakhurst bearing two items of interest: the red apple taken from the Gulthias Tree, and the purple amulet taken from the insane druid. While Richter was originally charged to bring back the apple, we arranged with the College of Wizardry to allow them to inspect it first, while we analyzed this mysterious amulet. This item was very powerful, and very evil. When it was initially scanned by one of our lower-level diviners, the man went insane and attacked some of the other clerics. He had to be restrained (permanently).
“After that, we took no chances. We brought in our higher-level diviners, such as Amgerit here, as well as other loremasters of the Temple to look into it via research rather than attempting direct manipulation or identification. However, our information was elusive. All that could be found out was that the amulet was old, centuries old. All the texts we found referring to it named it the Stone of Years, and described it as some soft of artifact. It had at least the following major effects: its wearer would gain ancient, seemingly first-hand knowledge of events long past; upon donning it the wearer would either go immediately insane or slowly be corrupted to evil, depending on his disposition prior to wearing the Stone. This was all that we could find in our library, large though it is.
“After several weeks of research, the time came to pass the artifact along to our neighbors at the College of Wizardry in return for the magical apple from the Gulthias Tree. Such item exchanges are not unusual, but they can be dangerous, especially when dealing with powerful items. They usually involve five mid-level representatives from both the Temple and the College meeting in a secret, pre-determined location.
“Alas, both sides were unprepared for what happened. The two groups apparently met at the location, midway between the Temple and the College along the road. However, before the exchange could take place, both groups were attacked simultaneously by a strong force that had laid an ambush. Despite the powerful spells and magic wielded by the representatives of both the College and the Temple, not a single member of either survived the attack. The assailants mercilessly slaughtered them all, using both weapons and magic to deadly effect. The bodies were stripped, looted, and cremated… and the Stone of Years was taken.
“Whoever did this was extremely intelligent and powerful. They knew that burning the bodies and then scattering the ashes would prevent the raising, resurrecting, or speaking with any of the victims. However, they were not as careful as they should have been. One of the combatants, a cleric named Sconish, managed to cut off his own finger before being felled. We were lucky enough to find the man’s digit while searching the scene. Because of the devastating losses to both the Temple and the College, we used the finger to resurrect Sconish, so that we could learn more of who the assailants were.
“According to his description, there were a band of fifteen or more assailants, apparently clerics of some sort. They all wore ochre-colored robes, and each wore some sort of black inverted triangle symbol. Something about this description seemed familiar, and it didn’t take much looking in our history tomes to learn that these were indeed clerics of the Elder Elemental Eye.
“Nearly a soul in Veluna does not know of the rise and fall of the Temple of Elemental Evil twenty-five years ago. The Temple was reportedly founded by the demoness Zuggtmoy, the abyssal consort of Veluna’s arch-enemy Iuz the Old. Located southeast of the city of Verbobonc, near to the Village of Homlett, the temple and the surrounding area gave rise to a massive influx of cultists, brigands, and other villains, as Zuggtmoy instructed them in bizarre teachings. It now appears that Zuggtmoy, originally the goddess of fungus and mold, adopted the portfolio of the Elder Elemental Eye to gain worshippers. These worshippers wore ochre robes, and bore one of two symbols: either the flaming eye, or an inverted black triangle.
“As Zuggtmoy’s power grew, she became too bold, and the cultists and monstrous creatures there began terrorizing the countryside. The neighboring lands did not sit still for this, and they decided to band together to stop the growing menace. They lay siege to and overthrew the temple at the Battle of Emridy Meadows in 569. Since the worshippers of Boccob try to remain neutral in political affairs, we were not present at the battle, but it is well-known throughout the land. The Temple was sealed, and the demoness Zuggtmoy was imprisoned beneath it.
“Reports have it that the evil stirred again nine years later, but was this time dealt with by individual adventuring parties. The Temple’s lower levels were destroyed, and Zuggtmoy was defeated, sent screaming back to the Abyss. After that, the area quieted and grew prosperous, and the evil seemed to have been vanquished. Until now.
“If the cleric Sconish’s reports are true, it appears that there still exists those who worship the Elder Elemental Eye. We do not know what they wanted with the Stone of Years. The mad druid Belak did not keep a journal, so we have no way of tracing how he acquired the stone. However, we have traced his movements and learned that he passed northwest through the city Verbobonc… very near to the site of the old Temple.
“The task before us is two-fold. Both the Temple of Maeth and the College of Wizardry have suffered losses at the hands of these evildoers. The Stone of Years, an artifact of unknown power, has been stolen, and many wizards and clerics have been slain. We need to find these cultists, bring them to justice, and recover the Stone of Years. We must also learn why they stole it, and what they are up to. The worshippers of Boccob did not act in the affairs of Elemental Evil during the battle twenty-five years ago. Now Boccob’s church and the practitioners of magic have been struck a blow, and it is time to balance the scale."
Eolus then turns to Richter. “It is your charge to journey to the Village of Homlett, and discover where these cultists are, what they are up to, and to recover the Stone of Years by any means necessary. This will be a long, and perhaps indefinite, assignment. You will leave immediately. Accompanying you, and representing the interests of the College of Wizardry in this affair, will be the wizard Vangkor. As for your other companions, they may accompany you at their discretion."
After a moment to digest this information, the group agrees to accompany Richter and the wizard Vangkor on their quest. They are wary of the half-orc at first, but soon see that he appears to be an exception to the stereotype of the much-maligned race: he is quite intelligent, impeccably-dressed, and has a crisp, clean, no-nonsense air about him. Only Fletcher expresses some reserve... his enmity with the orc race runs deep. However, he agrees to put aside his personal beliefs for the good of the party. Richter and Vangkor hit it off well, finding they have a number of things in common. They immediately decide to perform a quick collaboration in the making of a Wand of Cure Light Wounds before departing the next morning.
Eolus produces an overland map for the party to use in planning their route to Verbobonc and then Homlett. He suggests initially heading south, to the city of Devarnish, then striking east for the Velverdyva river, avoiding the lycanthrope-infested lands to the west of Verbobonc. The journey to the Velverdyva on horse-back should take about five days. Once at the river, they should have little trouble hitching a ride on one of the many merchant barges travelling south to Verbobonc. Although a barge moves slowly, it moves continuously down-river (barring unforseen mishaps) and does not need to rest. Thus they should make it to Verbobonc in about a days worth of travel down-river. From there it is about a three-day journey to Homlett.
The Temple Diviner Amgerit requests that each party member leave with him a fingernail clipping or strand of hair before departing. "Since Homlett is many miles to the south-east, I will use these to scry your location once every week. I have it in my power to communicate briefly with you when I do this, so that you may report on your progress.” The party sees the sense of this, and willingly donate the necessary items.
Since this is to be a sponsored expedition, the Temple agrees to donate to the party members any needed mundane supplies for their adventure, including a riding horse for each party member. The party spends the remainder of the evening preparing for their journey, while Richter assists Vangkor in the Temple's laboratory crafting the wand.
(11/25/02 9:45:52 pm)
| Re: The Trinity Campaign|
Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
Chapter 1(b): Verbobonc
The following morning, the group wrapped up all their last-minute preparations. Vangkor emerged from the laboratory with a freshly crafted Wand of Cure Light Wounds, which he bestowed graciously to Richter for use. After saddling up, the party bids farewell to the Temple of Maeth and rides southwards.
The journey to Devarnish is uneventful; the countryside surrounding the road to the city is well-travelled, and few bandits or monsters live in the area. They reach the city on Goodmonth the 10th. After spending the night at an inn, they strike eastward, as per Eolus's recommendation.
On Goodmonth the 12th, about a day's ride away from the Velverdyva River, something happens. Ian, riding in the middle of the party, is thinking of how to best present the warhammer he obtained in Durgeddin's fortress to the Legion. His thoughts are interrupted by a hollow rumbling sound, seemingly coming from the ground below. His mount slows, whinnying nervously. The rumbling stops for a moment, then the ground explodes, erupting out a large, brownish, segmented creature with a chitinous body and a squat, flattened head with huge mandibles. Ian's horse rears back, screaming in terror, and Ian is flung from the saddle to land jarringly upon his tailbone. The horse isn't so lucky; the creature's mandibles clamp shut on the poor beast. Blood flows, and the jaws of the creature secrete some sort of acidic saliva that sears into the horse's flesh. In seconds the poor beast collapses in a heap, dead. The group moves to attack, but only a few blows are landed before the creature burrows back into the earth, dragging the corpse of the unfortunate horse after it. The group tries sending a summoned badger down after it, but the thing moves with frightening speed, even when dragging a heavy load, and disappears into the depths below.
Ian is upset over losing his mount, but luckily he is a strong warrior, and carries most of his gear on his person. Regardless, he will need to ride with someone to keep up with the party. Minaret sizes up the big fighter, and pats her behind invitingly. Ian eagerly rises to the occasion. He swings up onto the horse, and spends the remainder of the journey riding behind the darkly attractive rogue, a large grin upon his face.
Without further adventure the group arrives at the bank of the Velverdyva. There is a small trading outpost there, along with some fishing shanties and a dock for the barges. As Eolus predicted, the party doesn't need to wait long before a large, flat barge carrying many barrels floats to one of the docks. The driver, a crotchety old Dwarf who doesn't give out his name, agrees that he'll allow the party and their mounts to ride the barge to Verbobonc for the fee of 10 silver pieces. Having no problem with this, the group agrees, and after the dwarf picks up a few supplies they are on their way down the river.
The trip is uneventful; though the barge moves slowly, its progress is steady, and soon night arrives. The group keeps watch, though it seems unnecessary, as the dwarf stays up through the night, piloting his craft in the hopes of reaching Verbobonc and his paycheck that much sooner. As dawn begins to dimly light the sky, the group sees a glow to the south... the city of Verbobonc!
At daybreak, the barge floats to the shore of the Velverdyva, next to a small dock. Their dwarven captain explains that the main road to Verbobonc is nearby (he needs to go a bit further down-river, to the primary loading dock for the barges). The party thanks him as they disembark, and he shoves off, eager to dump his payload.
The main road to Verbobonc is found quickly enough, and within a half hour they are approaching the city itself. It is easily one of the largest population centers the adventurers have ever seen. A massive stone wall encircles the entire perimeter, and many people in all manner of ethnicity and dress are moving in and out of the main gates. Flanking the gates is a company of armed soldiers, who greet the party cordially enough, asking their names and business within the city. The party replies vaguely, saying that they are here seeking their fortunes. The guards nod, saying that is common enough. The party may wear their arms and armor openly, though they are warned that any trouble they cause will bring severe reprisals. Gladdened by the unexpected trust from the city guard, the group promises to stay out of trouble.
Once inside the massive city gates, the party sees why the guards were less nervous than expected. The city teems with adventurers of all types: some bearing arms, some robed in the manner of wizards, even some strolling the boulevards with animal companions loping beside them. It appears Verbobonc is quite cosmopolitan, and home to a great many powerful individuals who appear quite able to defend themselves (and their city).
The group splits up, deciding to have a quick look about and shore up their supplies before moving on to Homlett. The central bazaar of the city is impressive, boasting many shops and tents where many exquisite and magical items can be found. Richter has never seen so many magical items on display outside the Temple of Maeth before, and Ian is quite impressed with the quality of arms and armor to be found. Everywhere a barker shouts out the quality of his wares over his neighbor's, though none of the group take the bait... while the selection is prolific, so are the prices, and the group has no urgent need to spend their reserves just yet. If the need for more specialized equipment should arise down the road, they decide Verbobonc will be an ideal supply point for them.
Vangkor, always one for fastidiousness, stops at a boutique and gets a manicure from an effeminate human male named Froederic. While getting his nails done, Vangkor casually inquires about the history of the region, especially concerning the Temple of Elemental Evil that he has heard so much about. While somewhat wary of the subject, Froederic loves to talk, and he soon is recounting the history as the locals know it. He recounts most of the history told to the party by Eolus of the Temple of Maeth. The Temple of Elemental Evil rose about twenty-odd years ago to the southeast of Verbobonc. It had been home to armies of nasty creatures of all types, and was apparently the source of a plague of natural disasters and calamities. The nobles and lords of the region rose up and attacked the temple, destroying its inhabitants and sealing it up. "From what I hear, the temple itself was greatly damaged, but the underground levels were pretty extensive and dangerous even for those heroic folk. So the Temple of Elemental Evil was sealed with great magic. I guess there was a powerful demon there that was trapped within its confines when it was sealed. Nasty, very nasty."
"Did you want your nails filed or sharpened?"
Vangkor thanks Froederic for the manicure and information and rejoins the party. They share all they have learned, and decide to spend the night in Verbobonc before making the three-day trek to Homlett. They locate a serviceable Inn and book a single night. They fall asleep to the bustle of the city gently murmuring like the surf of a great ocean in their ears...
(11/25/02 9:47:44 pm)
| Re: The Trinity Campaign|
Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
Chapter 1(c): Hommlet
The party departs again the next morning. The road leading south of Verbobonc is less heavily travelled once the city has been left behind, although the occasional farmer or traveller can be seen making their way to and from the metropolis. These folk usually keep to themselves, nodding courteously at the party as they pass but otherwise keeping on their path.
At dusk on the third day out of Verbobonc, as expected, the road breasts a small rise, and the Village of Homlett can be seen for the first time. It actually appears to be a small town, with many winding streets surrounding a modest hill, atop which stands a fair-sized keep. A small stream or river runs through the center of the village, parallel to the road the party is travelling on.
Now that the group has arrived, Minaret suggests locating those in charge, as well as getting a bite to eat. They spot a middle-aged man ambling towards the center of town, and call out to him.
The man turns, raising his eyebrows inquiringly. "Yes?"
Minaret steps forward. "Excuse me, but we're new to this town."
"That's obvious enough," the man observes amiably.
"Yes, well we'd really like to get in touch with whomever is in charge of this place, and to discover which of the local festhalls are considered the best."
The man scratches his chin. "Well, the guys in charge would be Rufus and Burne. They're the town elders." The group exchange meaningful glances. "But," the man continues, "they won't see you. They're pretty busy guys, and it'd have to be a pretty big emergency for them to take a time-out. The guy you prob'ly want to speak with is Elmo. He's the captain of the guard here in Homlett, and he's pretty accessible."
"Very good," says Minaret. "Where might we find him?"
"The answer to that is the answer to your other question: you'll likely find Elmo at the most reputable 'festhall' in town: the Inn of the Welcome Wench. He usually stops by there at the end of his shift, which should be in a few hours. Just keep heading down this road, past Rufus and Burne's keep 'till you get to the main intersection in town. The Wench is at that intersection. Can't miss it."
"We are much obliged, Mister..."
"Gyver. Otho Gyver's my name, but folks call me "Papa". I'm the baker here in town... my shop's a few blocks west of the Wench." He studies the group speculatively for a moment. "You folks going to be stayin' a while?"
"Possibly," Minaret replies cautiously.
"Well, if you do, be sure to stop by for breakfast. I'll get you some of the tastiest pastries around... cake donuts, ladyfingers, cream puffs, Cleric's Delights... you name it! Well, I'd best be going... gotta stop at Telna's to set up a breakfast order. See you folks later."
The party thanks Otho, and moves onward into town as the baker heads down an avenue branching north. They pass the large keep to the south, presumably where the elusive Rufus and Burne live. Several lights appear to be on, but in the fading light the group doesn't spot any activity. Continuing along the road, they pass a stonemason's and a wheelmaker's shop (both closed for the evening), and eventually reach an intersection. There they see a two-storied building with light streaming from many of the windows. The murmur of a gathered group of people can be heard from within, not loud and rowdy but unmistakable in the otherwise quiet town. Above the door a sign can barely be made out in the fading light: "Inn of the Welcome Wench".
The party dismounts, and spot a young, thin man passing by, carrying a bit and bridle. He stops on seeing the party, and offers to take care of their horses at the inn's stables; if they are planning on staying, the stabling will be free of charge. The group agrees, and leave their tired mounts to a good rub-down while they step in to rinse the road-dust from their trip.
The front door opens into the large main festroom. There are many tables, most of them occupied, and a bar lining the opposite wall. Though the night is mild, a small fire smokes in the fireplace, likely to provide more of a homey feeling than a source of heat. Although many people are present, the atmosphere is not rowdy; rather, the Inn seems like a good place to spend a relaxing evening after a good day's work. The good condition of the oak furniture and decorations lend credence to this.
The group approaches the bar, where a dark-haired female half-elf stands, scrubbing the inside of a mug. Her posture suggests boredom, and her face seems the type that only looks natural when it is frowning. Richter clears his throat, and she looks up at him. He pauses, expecting a greeting of some sort. After a moment of waiting for the cleric to say something, the barkeep says, "Well? What do you want? I haven't got all night."
Richter blinks. "Well, we were hoping to get a room at this fine establishment. What would your going rates be?"
"Private or common?"
After a quick discussion, Richter replies, "Private."
"Those are three gold a night. How many, and how long?"
The party decides to take one double-room for ten days. They hand over the gold, and the woman tucks it absently into her apron. "I'd like some ale, too, please," says Richter.
The woman rolls her eyes. "Okay. While you're at it, did you want a backrub?"
Unperturbed, Richter replies that the key and the ale will be fine. The woman sighs, as if she expected no better. She turns and exits through a door behind the bar. Richter looks thoughtfully after her. "Not exactly the most hospitable greeting," he remarks.
While the group waits, another woman, this one human and fair-haired, enters the festroom, carrying a large tray upon which are steaming plates of food. The aroma kicks the appetite of the group into high gear. Despite her heavy load, the woman pauses at the bar. "Have you folks been helped?"
"Oh, yes," says Richter, "we've rented a room, and were just waiting for the key from... um... black hair? Kind of snippy?"
The woman sighed. "That'd be Maridosen. I apologize for her demeanor... I've told her again and again to improve her attitude towards the customers. I am Vesta, and I'd like to extend you a warm welcome to the Inn of the Welcome Wench."
Vesta is the daughter of Ostler Gundigoot, proprietor of the Inn; she runs the day-to-day affairs on his behalf, as he is advancing in years. Her sunny disposition is a welcome change from that of the barmaid Maridosen, and the party warms to her immediately. They mention that they've heard that Elmo, the captain of the guard, occasionally stops in. She nods, saying he usually arrives about nine o'clock. The party requests that she direct them over to her table when he arrives, as they have something to discuss with him. Vesta agrees that she will mention it as soon as she sees him. She then notes the party's hungry glances at the aromatic platters she still has balanced effortlessly on her tray. "Excuse me, but I should deliver these dishes while they're still hot. Would any of you care for supper?"
"Yes, please!" The party orders dinner and drinks all around: Beef stew, marinated mutton chops, and venison steak, with ale, spiced ale, and Sundish lilac and Veluna fireamber wine. Vesta tells them to take any seat they like while she delivers her order. A moment or two after she leaves, Maridosen returns, and drops a key down on the counter; it has a leather loop and tag marked with a large number "2". Richter picks it up, thanking her politely, and turns to find a table with the party.
"Wait up," Maridosen snaps. "I thought you said you wanted some ale."
Richter concurs that an ale would be lovely. Maridosen stares hard at him, trying to determine if she's being mocked. Richter simply gazes back mildly. After a moment, she yanks a flagon from under the bar, yanks the tap, and fills the glass. She then slams it down on the bar and stares challengingly at Richter. Richter simply tosses a silver piece on the bar, picks up his mug, and joins the rest of the group, who have retired to a table in the far corner of the Inn, chosen for its view of the entire festroom and proximity to the fireplace.
It is not long before the food arrives, and the party digs in with gusto. The meal (and the drink) is excellent, a definite cut above standard tavern fare. It takes mere minutes for the party to polish off their supper (except for Vangkor, who eats with a bit better table manners). Sated, they sit back in their chairs and survey the room.
The first thing to claim their attention is the lovebirds: a man and a woman, both human, have been sitting at a nearby table since the party arrived, and have been getting closer and closer to each other, whispering and giggling in low voices. By the time the party is washing down the last of their meal, the two are locked in a soul kiss that looks almost vampiric. The adventurers are not the only ones to notice this; as Maridosen passes the pair on the way back to the bar, she swats the man on the back of the head with her serving tray, producing a dull gong. "Get a room or hit the road," she says. The couple indignantly get up and exit the Inn (without leaving a tip). Almost immediately their empty table is taken up by a wiry, bald man dressed in leather armor and a dark tunic, carrying a rapier. He lights up a pipe, and sits alone, scanning the room.
The party's attention is drawn to the entrance to the festroom as the front door opens, admitting a lanky, skinny half-elf male dressed in a velvet outfit . Several of the other patrons spot his entrance, and utter a curse. Oblivious to this reaction, the half-elf, obviously a bard, strides over to the fireplace right next to the party, and pulls out a recorder, apparently beginning to set up for a performance.
Vangkor, now finished with his meal, stands and approaches the bard, who is humming softly as he prepares his lute. "Excuse me, but do you take requests?"
The bard looks up, as if surprised someone is actually speaking to him. "Why, yes! I can play just about anything you have a mind for. What would you like to hear?"
"Well, I'm not exactly thinking of a particular song," replies Vangkor, "more of a subject matter. What I'd love to hear is some of the local folklore of the area... particularly the, er, trials that the village has undergone with the evil temple."
The bard looks excited. "Ah, you must be from out of town. Very well, my finely coiffed friend! I am Redithidoor Halfmoon, at your service. Relax, and allow me to bring the past into focus, as I spin the Yarn of Homlett..." The party leans forward expectantly, and the rest of the tavern falls to an expectant hush. Redithidoor tunes his recorder, clears his throat delicately, and opens his mouth.
What emerges is the most horrible yammering sound the party has ever heard. They recoil in surprise, and Richter nearly spills his ale. Redithidoor's voice can best be described as the sound of fifty rusty nails being pulled from a wet, rotten roof. With perhaps a dozen adolescent boys being skinned alive shrieking inside it. "Heeere-is-the-STOOOOOOOOOOOO-REEE! Of the Village of HOOOOOOOOOOM-LETT! Where ancient EEEEEEEEEEEE-vil! Once reared it's-- YURK!" Redithidoor's caterwauling is cut short, as Fletcher, having heard enough after five seconds, leaps to his feet and grabs the would-be entertainer by the ear. He then drags the hapless, yelping bard towards the stairs leading to the second story, accompanied by Minaret, Vangkor, and the fervent applause of the other patrons at the bar. Ian and Richter remain at the table.
The others haul Redithidoor to their room on the second floor. The door to number 2 is locked, but Minaret soon finesses it open, and the three adventurers drag the still protesting bard inside, tossing him upon one of the beds. The bard, seeing that he's alone with three heavily-armed critics, stops yammering. "Wh- what do you want with me?" he asks tentatively.
Vangkor steps forward. "What we want is information. No singing, no performing, just information. Can you do that?" Redithidoor takes a good look at the stern faces (and weapons) of the three adventurers, and decides to swallow his artistic pride. He agrees to tell the party what he knows. Vangkor nods. "Right. Now what do you know about the Temple of Elemental Evil?"
Redithidoor thinks, trying to compose his thoughts into non-verse. "Hm, let's see... it was about twenty-five years ago, I believe... yes that's about right. A group of very nasty individuals gathered to the northeast of Homlett and constructed a huge temple. They apparently made it a home-base for a regular army of nasties: gnolls, bugbears, ogres, trolls, and giants-- not to mention the demons and other fell creatures that served the evil human masters of the place. They somehow were able to unleash earthquakes, storms, fires, and floods on the whole surrounding countryside. It seemed monsters were drawn to the area like steel to a lodestone.
"The Temple of Elemental Evil (that's what everyone else called it, anyway... I'm not sure what the residents of the place called it) took three years to build, but even in that short time, everyone living in the area knew that they couldn't abide such a nasty place. The lands of Furyondy to the north and Veluna to the northwest combined their forces and sacked the temple twenty-two years ago in the big battle of Emridy Meadows... named after the site of the largest confrontation, if I recall. Most of the evil nasties were destroyed or driven off. The Temple was sealed, but the evil was not destroyed... only trapped.
"Later on, this would be about nine years later, trouble began brewing around Homlett again. Evil humanoids and strangely garbed priests were seen on the road, especially around the old moathouse just outside of town, which had been an outpost during the first uprising. I don't know what it was that they were up to, but within the following year, it started to become pretty plain that the Temple of Elemental Evil was rising again.
"This time, the folks living in Homlett and the area decided to take a different approach: they coordinated and helped out bands of adventurers to attack the ruined but still-occupied temple. Finally, the evil was once again defeated, and this time the lower levels of the dangerous place were destroyed. That's all that I know."
Minaret reaches into her purse, and pulls out ten gold pieces, and hands them to Redithidoor. "For your troubles. We only ask that you not return to play here for ten days."
Redithidoor takes the money. "This is more than I usually make off this place in two weeks!" He pauses. "Are you guys adventurers? 'Cause if you are, I'd love to hook up with you. You know, to chronicle your heroic deeds. It would sure beat playing to a poor crowd every night. What d'you say?"
The party is silent a moment. Then Minaret steps forward and slithers onto the surprised bard's lap. "We're very grateful for your assistance, Redithidoor. We're on a very important quest, and it concerns these matters... intimately. I'll tell you what. We'll be leaving at dawn. If you can meet us then in front of the Inn, you can accompany our party. You can be prompt, can't you, Redithidoor?" She sensuously runs her hand down the bard's sweaty back and along the inside of his thigh. Redithidoor, stammering and suddenly aroused beyond coherent speech, never noticed her expert fingers plucking the recorder from his belt. "I-- I guess," Redithidoor managed to get out, "that I could be there. Yeah. I'll be there!"
"Excellent," said Vangkor briskly. "Then we shall see you at dawn, not a moment before, not a moment after." He opened the door, and Redithidoor ran out, babbling excitedly about how he was going to write the yarn of the age about the party.
Downstairs, Ian and Richter heard the bard's headlong stumbling down the stairs, and watched amused as he tore out of the Inn. A short while later, Minaret, Vangkor and Fletcher descended. After having a short laugh at the bard's naivete, they related the details of what they had learned. The party is discussing their next move, including whether they should explore the old moathouse in the morning, when they notice that the bald man with the rapier and the pipe is standing nearby listening. He steps forward.
"Pardon my intrusion," he says in a voice deeper than his frame would suggest, "but I couldn't help but overhear your conversation. My name is Chatrilon Unosh. You may call me Chat." He smiles, but the smile does not touch his eyes, which do not lose their calculating stare as he measures up the party. "I am a seeker of treasures, and assume that we are of the same breed, hm?" The party is not sure how to respond, so they keep listening. Chatrilon continues. "I heard that you were considering investigating the moathouse outside of town, and thought that I should mention that going to the moathouse is a waste of time."
Vangkor raises his eyebrows. "A waste of time? And what makes you say this?"
Chatrilon says, "I know this, for I have been there myself, just last week. There is nothing of value there. However, I have another proposition for you. I assume you have heard of the infamous Temple to the northeast, hm? There is a band of hobgoblins that has taken up residence there recently. I have been studying them for a while, and believe that they may have amassed some treasure. Almost certainly illicitly gained, but perhaps worthy of a band of adventurers willing and strong enough to take it for themselves."
The party is not immediately enthusiastic. They are not here for treasure (alone, anyway), and something about Chatrilon disturbs them, something that seems not quite ingenuous. They ask him why he has not simply raided the hobgoblins for their treasure himself. He replies that their numbers are too many for a single person to risk a confrontation, but a well-equipped and seasoned group might deal with them easily enough. "You are the most likely group to show up here that I have seen. I ask only that I get a fair share of whatever treasure might be acquired. What do you say?"
The party thinks it over. The man is obviously skilled in subterfuge, as he managed to approach them in an open bar-room without their noticing. He also is quite muscular, and moves with a sinuous grace. After some deliberation, they hesitantly agree to invite him into the group.
"Excellent," Chat says. "I only have one other condition: that the buffoon not accompany us." When the party looks at him blankly, he says patiently, "Redithidoor. The bard. I noticed you speaking to him, and he seemed quite excited when he left. The only time I have seen him that excited is when someone brings up adventuring. I will accompany you to the Temple on the morrow, but only if the fool is not present. If he comes with us, he will surely begin bleating in that sheep's voice of his, and I swear I will kill him when that happens. So, for his safety, it is best that he not accompany us. Is this agreeable?"
Minaret replies, "We told him to meet us in front of the Inn at dawn. We shall leave before then."
"Very good. I will see you all before dawn then." He gets up, bows his head slightly in parting, and exits out the front door. On his way out, he has to sidestep a lurching hulk of a man who stumbles into the Inn. The newcomer carries a longsword, and emblazoned on the breastplate of his full suit of plate mail is a fist grasping a lightning bolt: the symbol of the god Heironeous. His hair is long, and a grizzled beard covers his face. He sways unsteadily for a moment, then seems to spot the bar at the far end, and plunges headlong for it. A stool manages to catch his weight with a protesting creak as he falls back into it. He motions impatiently to Vesta, who is at the bar. He holds up three fingers. Vesta says something to him, and he shakes his head vehemently, nearly falling out of his stool in the process. Vesta seems to deliberate a moment, and then reluctantly fills up three full pitchers of ale. The armored hulk grabs all three pitchers in one gauntleted hand, and strides heavily over to one of the tables. He collapses in one of the chairs, then grabs one of the pitchers. Fascinated, the party watches as he drains the entire pitcher at a single draught, his adam's apple bobbing. He then slams the pitcher down on the table, and then lapses into a bleary study of the barroom floor. Deciding that he isn't going to approach them or try and perform some awful ballad, the party loses interest, and turns as the front door opens again.
Standing in the entrance are three men. Two are dressed in standard quality armor and weaponry typically befitting a town guardsman. The third is similar in dress, but stands several inches taller and has noticeably better equipment. He is muscular in build, athletic and clean-cut. He surveys the room, then says something to his companions. They nod, and after clasping hands the two exit the tavern while the man approaches the bar. Vesta greets the newcomer warmly, and the party overhears her calling him by name: "Elmo!" He orders a single flagon of ale, which he sips occasionally as he engages in a lengthy conversation with Vesta. The party waits patiently, until Vesta happens to glance in their direction. Her eyes then widen, and she says something to Elmo. He glances around at the party curiously, then stands and approaches their table.
"I am Elmo. It appears you have me at a disadvantage... I do not know who you are. I was told you wished to speak with me?"
The party introduces themselves, saying that they are new in town, and wish to get to know the local authorities. Elmo shakes hands all around. "Welcome to Homlett. We're used to seeing adventurers passing through, though traffic has died down lately, much to the chagrin of the tradesmen," he says with a smile. "What might your business in Homlett be?"
The group says that they are on a quest, trailing a band of thieving and murdering cultists who may be in the area. When they ask Elmo if he has seen any strangers wearing ochre robes, the pleasant smile fades from his face. "Ochre robes?" he asks softly.
Vangkor nods. "The cultists were wearing ochre robes, along with this symbol." He pulls a sheet of parchment from his pack, and carefully draws out an inverted triangle, with an inverted Y within it. Elmo looks at the symbol for a long time, saying nothing, but growing pale. When he finally speaks again, his voice is low, with no trace of good humor.
"It has been years since I have seen this symbol. I had hoped to never see it again. What do you know of the Elder Elemental Eye?"
The group briefly explains all that they have learned concerning the evil cult. "What more can you tell us about this cult?"
Elmo sighs, and closes his eyes. He is silent for a long while, and his eyes remain closed when he finally speaks again.
"This cult, or cults, gave rise to the greatest threat this part of the world has ever known: the Temple of Elemental Evil. I do not speak of this lightly, for I know first-hand of the evil that was wrought during that terrible time. I was part of the group that destroyed the Temple when it rose again. I fought the evil myself, and lost my brother in the process. I will tell you what I know, and hope that history does not repeat itself.
"As you know, the Temple was built and commanded by the demoness Zuggtmoy, aided by Iuz the Old. After the battle of Emridy Meadows, the armies of darkness were defeated, but Zuggtmoy and the Temple itself were too strong to be destroyed. Instead, the Temple was sealed with powerful magics, trapping the demoness within. Thirteen years ago, when the evil rose again, I was charged by the Viscount of Verbobonc to assist in bringing it to an end. With the aid of others, including my brother Otis, we discovered first that the moathouse outside of Homlett was again serving as a secret outpost to the Temple. It was headed by an evil cleric called Lareth the Beautiful, so named for his fair countenance. We managed to defeat him and his minions, but signs pointed us further, to the re-awakening of the Temple itself. We managed to infiltrate its depths, and learned that the Temple forces were being led by an evil cleric of Iuz named Hedrack, who was planning to free the imprisoned Zuggtmoy, using an evil artifact called the Orb of Golden Death. In the battle that followed, many lives were lost, including those of my companions... and my brother. But the Orb of Golden Death was destroyed, which in turn caused the dissolution of Zuggtmoy's essence back to the Abyss, along with the final destruction of the Temple's lower levels.
"As far as the Elder Elemental Eye is concerned, I don't have a lot of knowledge of the whole affair, but from what I understand, the Elder Elemental Eye is a 'portfolio' of sorts. It was adopted by Zuggtmoy to attract more humanoid worshippers. I guess being the goddess of mold and fungi wasn't getting her very far among the surface races. Her adopted symbols were the flaming eye and the inverted triangle symbol. I don't really know how it all works, but she was able to somehow channel the faith of these new worshippers to herself. I'm afraid I'm not all that well-versed in the religion stuff. You'd probably be best off speaking to Yether the Keen, of the Church of Pelor. Or, maybe... well, there's a Church of St. Cuthbert." At the name, Elmo looks uncomfortable for a moment.
"What about Chat?" Vangkor asks. The party briefly describes their encounter with the enigmatic treasure-hunter.
"Can't say i know too much about Chatrilon. He arrived in town a couple weeks ago. Since then he's been in and out of Homlett. He hasn't caused any trouble that I know of. I know he's right that there are hobgoblins inhabiting the old Temple, but frankly I haven't given them much thought lately. They seem smart enough to not bother the village." He pats the sword at his side grimly.
At that moment, the group's attention is broken by a shout. It comes from the grizzled man in the suit of armor bearing Heironeous's symbol. The party had forgotten all about him, but while Elmo had been relating the history of the Temple, the man had been talking to himself, first in mutters, but slowly growing louder. Now he had leapt to his feet, and was shouting.
"No more! Make it stop! No more dreams! The devastation... the emptiness! Ahhh... get out of my head... MAKE IT STOP!" At this point he actually begins striking his own head with his gauntleted fists.
Elmo gets up quickly, saying "Excuse me" to the party, and approaches the distraught man. He pulls the man's fists away from his head (the party notices that it takes him considerable effort to do this), speaking gently to him. "It's all right, Xaod. Stop, it's all right. You're fine."
"Nothing's fine," slurs the warrior, but he stops beating himself and simply stands, staring down at his boots and swaying slightly. Elmo escorts him towards the stairs as quietly as possible. For some reason, Ian decides to follow the two upstairs. In his magically silent armor, he is quiet as a mouse, and stays just long enough to see Elmo escort the large warrior into room number 10. He nimbly hops back downstairs just before Elmo returns.
"I'm sorry," says Elmo, "but I have other duties I need to attend to. I wish you luck on your quest. Please keep me informed if you learn any more about these cultists. I sense trouble brewing." He exits the Inn.
The party, having had enough excitement for one night, decides to retire themselves, and head up to their double room. They fall to sleep, with Elmo's words following them...
(11/25/02 9:52:27 pm)
| Re: The Trinity Campaign|
Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
Chapter 1(d): The Moathouse
The party rouses itself the next morning while the sky is still dark. After gearing up, Minaret remembers that they're supposed to meet Chatrilon in front of the Inn an hour before dawn. She turns to Ian. "You said last night that you saw which room our 'friend' is staying in. Which room was it?" She apparently thinks Ian had reported the room of Chatrilon instead of the drunken fighter led upstairs by Elmo. Ian, not catching on to her error, replies that it was room 10. Minaret smiles enigmatically and creeps out to the hallway. The party, mystified, follows.
Minaret stops in front of the door to room 10 and carefully puts her ear to the door. From within come loud snores. She tries the door... locked. She then knocks, saying "Come along, my friend! It will soon be dawn!" The snores in the room do not stop. Apparently feeling impatient, Minaret bends and picks the lock of the door, pushing it open. She enters the room. "Come ON! We need to get moving if we want to beat Red--" She stops short, as she sees that the figure splayed on the bed is not Chatrilon but the drunken fighter from the night before, still dressed in full plate mail. Her entrance seems to have been loud enough, for he wakes up immediately and swings over, drawing his sword. He loses his balance and clatters to the floor. "What... who..." Then he squeezes his eyes shut, groaning and grabbing his head with one hand. "Ohhh... what's happened?"
Minaret quickly regains her composure, thinking fast. "Um, are you ready to go?"
"Go... where? Who are you?"
"To the moathouse, as we agreed last night."
"...Moathouse? I don't... remember... who are you?" the fighter responds.
"You mean you don't remember? We met last night. You asked if you could accompany us to the moathouse this morning to fight a great evil."
Minaret abruptly recalls Elmo speaking the name of the armored man. "Yes. Your name is Xaod, right? You said you'd had a dream."
Xaod is still rubbing his head, but is starting to wake up now. "Yes, I'm Xaod. Xaod the Slayer. I told you about my dreams?"
"Yes, but you were a bit fuzzy about it last night. Before we go, perhaps you should tell us again, now that your head is clearer.
"But... I don't remember you... telling..." Xaod abruptly closes his eyes and grits his teeth. "God-DAMMIT, my head hurts! What did I do?"
Richter quietly steps forward, grasping Boccob's symbol. His hands glow with a violet light. He touches Xaod's head, and the light swims over the armored warrior, who jerks back instinctively. Then the light leaves him, and he stares at the big cleric. "What did you just do?"
"I just applied a little curative magic. Does your head feel better?" said Richter.
Xaod feels his forehead. "Yes. Much better, although I could use about a gallon of coffee."
"Fair enough," says Minaret. "Let's go downstairs, and you can repeat your story to us now that you're coherent."
"Okay... but I still don't remember you." confesses Xaod, still looking bewildered.
"That's hardly surprising, considering you consumed three pitchers of ale in ten minutes last night," replies Minaret. "Come on, let's get you some coffee."
Xaod can't say no to that, so he accompanies the party downstairs. The festroom is deserted except for Vesta, who is stocking the bar, and a single gnome sitting at one of the far tables, consuming a piece of toast with great enthusiasm. Vesta smiles sunnily. "Good morning! Up early I see. There's complimentary fresh fruit at the bar, along with pastries courtesy of Papa Gyver's bakery. Help yourself."
"Thank you!" As the rest of the party eagerly nabs some of the delicious smelling pastries and escorts Xaod to one of the tables, Minaret asks Vesta, "Do you have an coffee? Our companion is a bit... under the weather."
Vesta looks sadly at Xaod. "He usually isn't up this early. Luckily I have some made already." She hands a mug and a hot decanter to Minaret, who thanks her once more and brings them to the table.
Xaod looks briefly at the mug, then raises the steaming decanter to his lips. He drinks for about ten seconds before lowering the decanter. His lips are noticeably red from the hot coffee, but his eyes are clearer. "That hit the spot."
"So tell us of these dreams once more."
Xaod considers, selecting and munching on a bearclaw. "The dream is always the same. I can never remember the details, only the feeling of utter destruction. There is a black cloud ringed with fire that covers and consumes the entire land. The cloud is evil. I can feel its evilness, the way you can sometimes feel the electricity in an approaching thunderstorm. I can't run from it. I can only stand and watch as the cloud reaches me and destroys me. Then it happens again. Every night for weeks I have this dream. I have communed with Heironeous, and have been told that this evil will happen, and it will destroy everything if unstopped.
Heironeous told me that the key to preventing this evil will be found in Homlett. I came here a week ago, but haven't found anything. I located the old site of the Temple of Elemental Evil, thinking there may be some link there. All I found was a band of hobgoblins there. Surely they weren't the cause of my dream. Since then I've been waiting for a sign from Heironeous of how to proceed, but have not received a reply."
The party exchanges glances. "Well, we are on the track of an evil band of cultists in the area. Perhaps you were sent to accompany us."
Xaod thinks a moment, then concurs that this might be so. "The gods don't always speak directly. It is possible that you yourselves are the sign I've been looking for. Very well, I will accompany you. When do we depart?"
Just then the front door opens, and the party sees Chatrilon standing there, dressed for travelling with a pack. "It's an hour before dawn. Have you evaded the fool?" He then spots Xaod. "Who's that?"
The party introduces Xaod. Chatrilon looks mildly interested, but Xaod barely raises his hand in greeting, still musing over his troubling dreams. It appears that Redithidoor is going to take them at their word, and not appear before dawn, so without further delay the party makes to depart.
The party fetch their horses from the stable. Xaod's mount is there too, a mighty fine warhorse. However, Chatrilon does not own a horse, and Ian is still without a mount from the encounter with the creature outside Devarnish. They make a hasty deal with the stable-master, paying top dollar for two light horses normally kept in reserve at the stables for just such emergencies. Once everyone is saddled up, the party sets off on the road leading east from town. Minaret calls Soot, her raven, who flutters down and sits upon her shoulder.
As they ride, they discuss their plan. They will head towards Nulb and the Temple of Elemental Evil to the north, stopping at the moathouse along the way. Chatrilon is not pleased with this. "I tell you, it is a complete waste of time. There is nothing there."
Vangkor, still not entirely trusting the man, replies, "Then there should be no problem if we stop to investigate. Wait outside, if you like."
"Maybe I will." Chatrilon looks put out, but does not leave.
They continue riding eastward for a bit, towards the rising sun. After an hour or two of travelling, they hear an odd sound coming from a slight rise to the side of the road: whistling. Someone is whistling a happy-go-lucky tune. The party stops, and over the rise comes an older, grizzly half-elf, dressed in faded brown leather and carrying many animal pelts over his shoulder. He has a gray beard, and a faded green hat sits squarely upon his head. He sees the party and smiles, waving. "Morning!" His voice is a bit gravelly-sounding, but friendly enough.
The man introduces himself as Delian Thornbush, or "ol' Del", as he refers to himself. He's a wandering trapper on his way to Homlett to sell his pelts. He apparently doesn't get a chance to speak to strangers much, and takes full advantage of the chance encounter, talking a mile a minute about all sorts of topics, ranging from discussing the weather to introducing the party to one of his pelts, named "Fuzzy" (holding up the head and speaking in a squeaky voice, as if it were a ventriloquist's dummy). The party is amused, but not sure what to make of this eccentric character. They ask him if he's seen any men wearing ochre robes about.
"Ochre, eh? That's a kind of orangish-brown, right? Yeah, I seen a bunch of 'em, down by the moathouse a few days ago." The party looks pointedly at Chatrilon, who merely raises his eyebrows. "Had a bunch'a furry armored creatures with 'em, what-d'ya-call-em, Gnolls, that's it. Yeah, bunch'a gnolls. Kinda weird that, gnolls with people. 'Cept these gnolls looked a bit more like normal people than most. I know, I've seen gnolls before. Weird. Anyway, you don't wanna be going there anyway," he continues conversationally. "There's a dragon there."
At this the party gapes incredulously. "A dragon??"
"Oh-yah. Seen 'im fly in couple days ago. 'Least, it looked like a dragon. Wings, scales, so forth. Kinda big for a mosquito," he chuckles. The party asks what color the dragon was. "Ah, tough to tell from a distance, but it looked kinda bluish."
The party thinks for a moment, then decides to carry on anyway. They thank Del.
"Oh, no problem. Gotta be gettin' on myself, get Fuzzy a new home, heh-heh. You folks take care, and, ah, keep yer stick on the ice." With a salute-like wave, he continues on towards Homlett, whistling his tune again.
As the party moves on, Ian looks pointedly at Chatrilon. "I thought you said the place was deserted."
"It was. I was there a week ago, remember? Besides, the old guy was obviously nuts." Still, Chatrilon looks troubled.
After another hour or so of riding, the grassy plains give way to swampy marshland, with tall reeds growing to the side of the trail. Abruptly, Fletcher stops his horse, motioning for the others to do the same. "Listen." The party listens, but can hear nothing. "Exactly. It's totally quiet. No birds, nothing rustling in the underbrush, not even any frogs, which you'd expect for a marsh. Weird."
They have gone less than a mile further when the reeds pull back to reveal a relatively open area, and the party spots what can only be the moathouse. It looks smaller than they expected, little more than a ruined manor with a walled courtyard and a collapsed tower. There appears to once have been an upper story to the place, but it must have collapsed at some point. The structure itself appears to have either sunk into the ground or have been constructed in a natural depression: a wide moat surrounds the entire building, filled with stagnant water. Leading across the moat to an entryway in the wall facing the party is what looks to be a wooden bridge. The trail that they are on curves northward here, passing by the moathouse.
Minaret decides to send Soot, her raven familiar, out on a reconnaissance. The bird flaps up, and flies high above the area. It makes several broad circles around the perimeter.
_What do you see?_ asks Minaret, communicating via a telepathic link to her familiar.
_Man nest._ replies Soot.
The group decides to leave their horses behind, near the reeds, while they investigate. Minaret requests Soot to wait near the horses for them to return, and to alert her immediately if anything approaches them. They approach the moathouse cautiously.
Fletcher spots several pools of the brackish water flanking the path leading to the moathouse bridge. The water is covered with greenish scum, making it impossible to see beneath the surface. He stops the group about sixty feet from the pools, bends and picks up a largish stone. With pinpoint accuracy, he pegs the stone at the pool. It lands dead-center with a splash. Immediately the water explodes, ejecting a green, amphibious form: a frog. Only this frog is larger than any of the party has ever seen. It is at least the size of a man. Eyes bugging wildly, it spots the party and begins leaping in their direction.
Ian raises his axe with a cry and charges the giant frog as it approaches. However, before he can close with it to land a blow, the creature opens its mouth, and its long sinewy tongue shoots out. Before Ian can dodge out of the way, it wraps around him, sticking to him and pinning his arms. With a jerk, he is drawn forward off his feet towards its gaping maw!
The rest of the party moves forward to attack (except for Chatrilon, who laughs, seeming to find the sight of Ian being caught like a fly amusing). Luckily, Ian is too large to be drawn into the creature's gullet, but it gets several nasty bites against him before the others arrive and hack it to pieces. Bruised and bloodied by the encounter, Ian kicks the corpse angrily, cursing himself for not being more careful.
The bridge leading into the moathouse entrance looks rotten, as ruined as the rest of the structure. However, several new-looking boards have been placed across it, quite recently by their appearance. They seem stable enough, so the party decides to cross two at a time. Ian, still seething from his injuries from the frog volunteers to go first. Surprisingly, Chatrilon says he will accompany him. The two move cautiously forward. They cross the bridge without incident, and pass through the entrance. The others wait with bated breath.
The entrance opens into a courtyard framed by the ruined walls of the moathouse. The courtyard is about sixty feet square; in one corner is a set of steps leading up to a ruined pair of doors, one open and one shut, apparently leading to the moathouse interior. The yard is paved in old cobblestones, with grass and weeds poking up between them. Rubble from the collapsed wall and upper level of the structure is strewn about. A brown smear spreads across the middle of the courtyard, up the steps and into the one open door leading into the moathouse. Something gleams on the ground where the smear begins.
Ian and Chatrilon advance cautiously to the smear on the ground. The courtyard is deathly quiet; their boots crunch loudly on the cobblestones. They reach the stain, which definitely resembles dried blood. The shiny object on the ground is a curved dagger, its tip stained.
Ian bends to pick it up, when he hears Chatrilon say conversationally behind him, "Oh @#%$." He looks up, and sees the man has gone pale, staring at the double doors at the top of the steps. Ian follows his gaze, and sees a long, reptilian, horned snout, blue in color, peering around the closed door. It is followed by a pair of eyes glinting evilly. The jaws of the creature part with a guttural growl, to reveal long, wickedly curved teeth. A wavering line of electricity jolts quickly up from the creatures teeth and into one exposed nostril.
Then the door at the top of the stairs is smashed aside, and the blue dragon leaps out, roaring. It is not full-grown, but is still terrifying to behold. Ian has only time to stupidly think "The old man was right," when the creature rears its head and emits forth a crackling bolt of electricity accompanied by a massive crash of thunder. Chatrilon leaps to the side just in time, but Ian is caught fully in the deadly blast. He jitters and shakes as the electric current slams through him, then crashes to the ground motionless, his armor smoking.
The explosion of the bolt galvanizes the party, and they quickly cross the bridge into the courtyard. They have just enough time to see Chatrilon pull something from his breast pocket... and vanishes. The party moves quickly, spreading out so as to prevent a combined target to the dragon's breath weapon. A fierce battle begins. Minaret downs her potion of fly and flies to the ruined roof of the moathouse, above and behind the dragon. Vangkor hastes himself and begins casting massive offensive spells. The party notices that the wizard has slightly altered some common spells, substituting sonic energy for other types. His fireballs and sonic balls are nearly as deafening as the dragon's lightning. Richter whittles away at the creature with several ice spells, and then attempts to summon various creatures to distract the beast. Fletcher fires one of his alchemist fire arrows at the beast. The dragon, perhaps inexperienced with the short burning duration of the flaming substance, spends valuable time trying to put the blaze out, rolling about on the ground. The rest of the party keeps whittling away it with ranged attacks. The only one brave (or stupid) enough to charge into melee is Xaod the Slayer, who voices a mighty yell and charges the beast. However, before he can engage it, Fletcher shoots it again with his last alchemist fire arrow. Howling, the beast alights, and swoops flaming across the courtyard to the tower opposite the steps. There, infuriated with pain as the flames still lick its body, he spots Fletcher and Richter standing next to the drawbridge along the ruined wall. From the dragon's jaws flashes another bolt of lightning. Unfortunately for Fletcher, he is standing directly in front of Richter, and absorbs much of the blast's damage. Far beyond healing aid, he falls sizzling at Richter's feet, who is himself badly wounded by the blast. Xaod, having charged across the courtyard to confront the foe in melee, now finds his opponent on the opposite tower, so he about-faces and charges again. Before he can engage the beast, however, the last volley of spells and missiles take the mighty creature down, and with a shriek, it plummets from the tower to the rubble-strewn ground below, to move no more.
There is a moment of stunned silence from the group, as they realize the magnitude of this creature that they have defeated. Xaod, who didn't land a single blow or take any damage during the entire encounter, raises his sword triumphantly to the sky. "Victory! By Heironeous's might, we have conquered! We have-- YYYRUUUCH!" he screams out, as a rapier's blade shoots from the breastplate of his armor... gripped by Chatrilon, who materializes behind the knight. Quick as a snake, Chat smoothly draws back, and triggers his wand, becoming invisible once again. Stunned as the party is at this sudden turn of events, Minaret and Vangkor try to bring Chatrilon down with several area-effect spells and melee attacks, but the elusive and invisible assassin evades their attacks and escapes. Minaret hastily checks with Soot, to make sure the horses are not attacked or stolen. Soot replies that he sees no man, nothing moving. Richter rushes to try and save Xaod, but the man is quite dead. Searching about, he spots the rapier used for the assassination lying on the ground near the drawbridge. Wondering what caused the assassin to drop the weapon, Richter gives it to Minaret for safekeeping.
The party is in bad shape. Three party members are dead, and the others in dire need of healing. They do a quick reconnaissance of the main hall of the moathouse. Inside the great hall beyond double doors, they find the partially-eaten remains of two bodies. One is dressed in black, and appears to have been a rogue. The other wears a torn ochre robe. Each body has one of the black inverted triangles of the Elder Elemental Eye. The party takes these and all the other loot on the bodies, including some armor, weapons, a small amount of gold and gems, and a lilac-colored stone mask of a fearsome visage. After cursorily examining some of the other rooms of the moathouse and finding no other bodies or activity, they load the bodies of their fallen comrades on the horses and beat a hasty retreat back to Homlett.
Amazingly, it is still only about noon when they arrive in town. They are met with some curious looks by passersby, who quickly look away when they see the bodies lying motionless on the horses. They find Elmo on the road near the Inn, apparently on some errand or another. They hail him, and immediately describe their encounter: the defeat of the dragon, the bodies of the cultists, and Chat's betrayal. It seems a bit much for Elmo to digest all at once, and he spends a moment thinking it over.
"So, what are you going to do?" asks Minaret, a trifle impatiently.
Elmo thinks a moment longer, then replies, "The watch will be increased. If Chatrilon is still at large, he might return here and do further mischief. We'll try to determine where he was staying, and if we can learn more."
"THAT'S IT??" says Minaret, incredulous. "Excuse me, pal, but we killed a DRAGON not a three hour ride from where we stand. We found the bodies of these cultists there. They were wearing the ochre robes. They even had the symbols, dammit!" She holds up the robe and symbols in Elmo's face. "They were THERE!"
Elmo's face grows hard. "Then all the more reason for you to act quickly! This is your quest, not mine! I cannot go running out with an army after every possible threat I hear about, leaving the town defenseless!" The party, stunned, makes no reply. His tone then softens. "I'm sorry, but my responsibility is with the safety of Homlett, no matter what. I'll help in whatever way I can, but I cannot forsake my duties."
The party asks what he would suggest. Elmo thinks a moment, looking at the bodies upon the horses. "I suggest that you tend to your fallen comrades first. Seek help at one of the town temples. Beyond that, I'd reccomend that you return to the moathouse as quickly as possible. If there are more cultists there, who knows what they are up to." The party agrees with this logic, and they part on friendly enough terms.
The party first stops at the Temple of Pelor. They meet the cleric in charge, named Yether the Keen, and ask if he has any way to raise their companions. Yether apologizes, saying that while he does offer his services in exchange for a donation to Pelor, he lacks the power to bring their companions back from the dead. He reccomends they try the Church of St. Cuthbert, where the Canoness Y'dey may be able to help them. The party thanks him and moves to the Church of St. Cuthbert.
The Church is easy to find, being the largest temple in Homlett. They are greeted at the door by a cleric named Calmer. They explain that they need to see the Canoness right away, saying that some of their companions have been killed while investigating some evil cultists in ochre robes. Calmer seems flustered at this, and after agreeing to have a detect evil cast on them, they are led to the upper levels of the church. There they meet Y'dey: a woman in her fifties, fully armed and armored. She is most troubled by their account of what has happened. She says that she was part of the group that brought down the second uprising of the Temple of Elemental Evil, and has long feared that the evil there was not wholly wiped out. She agrees to raise the party's companions, but only if the party makes a donation of 1000 gold pieces for each party member raised; Cuthbert does not believe in charity, she explains, and everything in life must be earned one way or another. The party agrees, and asks where they might sell some of their gear to come up with the funds. She reccomends the Old Trading Post, run by the halfling Joman Dart.
Joman is an amicable enough fellow, and pleased to dicker with the party to get enough gold to raise their companions. It is a costly blow to the party's funds, however; they need to sell many of their magical items, and even Richter must give up the valuable pearls he uses to identify magic items. Nonetheless, they scrape together enough to pay for three castings of raise dead by Y'dey. The process takes a while, but as afternoon fades into evening, Ian, Fletcher, and Xaod are back on their feet, albeit severely weakened by their trauma. The Canoness, extremely tired, thanks them for their donations and retires to her chambers. The reunited party must now decide their next move.
(11/25/02 11:10:31 pm)
Have Durgeddin to become a blade spirit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!