We were slated to return to the “Dragons” campaign and rejoin our heroes as they sought the Blue Dragon Mask within Xonthal’s Tower. Sadly, we were down one player on long notice – due to CES in Las Vegas, and two more cancelled late in the game due to the opening of their distillery! Epic reasons to miss the gathering indeed!
Last minute plans were laid and soon, once again, we gathered at nerd central. It had been some weeks for all present since we last gathered in the sacred chambers due to an epic snow storm at the end of 2016. The year resisted going out with a whimper and instead went out with a blast from Ithaqua.
I provided America’s finest fried chicken and some side fixin’s and soon, all were fed to full and then some. The group made second level characters for our evening’s adventures. We had:
Spence Collins – Human Cleric
Stavian Stormlit – Half-Elven Warlock
Allain – Half-Elven Rogue (All-ane)
Howard – Wood-Elf Monk
Things got underway quickly. Our story for the evening was set in the City of Phlan, where the Faithful of Kelemvor, Lord of the Dead, humbly tend to the great Valhingen Graveyard. A notice posted in the The Pilgrim’s Cup – a local inn of humble name but hearty portions:
WANTED: Holy Knights, Blessed Warriors of the Gods, and other bold slayers of the Undead. Reward commensurate with risk. For particulars, contact Doomguide Yovir Glandon at Valhingen Graveyard, City of Phlan
Soon our compatriots were on their way north across the great Stojanow River to the picturesque gardens and landscaping of the great cemetery, and immediately after, discussing terms with Doomguide Glandon. Everyone agreed to leave the treasures of the dead for the dead, and to find any undead in the catacombs, slay them, and to find the source of the blasphemous creations and destroy that as well, if possible. Accompanying our heroes on their mission – the slightly mousey and kind-of-fair-in-a-certain-way Kelemvorite Acolyte, Cassyt. She was along to assist, and to ensure the safe keeping of the dead’s belongings.
Cassyt opened the locked iron gate and our heroes descended into the catacombs and into the large funerary banquet halls. Bloody stains on the floor of the second chamber marked where remains of one caretaker were found.
By Cassyt’s lantern light, the group passed down the next hall, through a weird mausoleum containing dioramas of the dead, seated and standing …and rotting among their finery behind locked gates and grills. Around the next corner, a large round chamber with a sunken ossuary taking up most of the floor. Bragging of his swift footedness, Howard said he’d quickly reconnoiter what lay just beyond view, just around the corner, before our heroes descended. Howard discovered a chamber filled with blackened corpses stacked standing against the walls. They all were smoked and darkened with soot from some sort of ancient mummification ritual. In a slightly open area in the center of the chamber, some of the corpses’ dismembered and gnawed remains. Just then, howling and slavering creatures like long armed ghouls sprang to the attack. Howard exchanged a few quick blows and ran for the safety of his comrades with the enemy in hot pursuit. Luckily, the ranged advantage of his friends saved his hide. Divine fire and steel bolt shot past him as he ran out and behind him, the monsters fell one after another.
“Well, that about does it for me. You know I don’t get paid for this, right?” – Cassyt
The floor of the next chamber lay twenty feet below down a rickety ancient stair. Howard was first down and all went well, except some of the steps seemed to groan and crack menacingly. Spence followed. The stairwell collapsed.
“And how do you expect me to get down?” – Cassyt
Howard and Spence pressed ahead while the others considered their options and began to ready some ropes. Hearing some scuffling behind a door, Howard and Spence readied themselves and opened the door – four shuffling moaning corpses clamored after them. All joined the fray as best they could – some with magic rays and Allain with his bow. The arrows didn’t appear to do much, but our heroes poured them on. Stavian and Cassyt pounded the foes with their respective secret fires.
Soon, the dead fell…and one rose again within seconds only to be bashed down again by Howard.
The silence revealed noises from a door to the north. Hiccups. Possibly low voices. A long rope, a fallen iron bar, and a grappling hook lay as litter on the floor. High above, a broken iron grill and the light of day.
Spence interrogated the voices behind the door. They reluctantly opened the door and it turned out to be three badly wounded grave robbers. One, a half orc, had drunk his fill of whiskey and was only partly conscious. A tense debate ensued among our group as to whether to kill them or let them go – and then wether to allow them to keep the treasures they’d obtained and how they might depart – back the way they’d come or out the front of the catacombs. Tempers ran short. Violence was threatened. Finally, the smaller two, a half-elf and a tiefling, agreed to climb out and try to help up their drunken comrade. They climbed to freedom – and then dropped the rope and (presumably) ran.
Our heroes stuffed the sleeping half-orc behind the door where they’d found him and then re-barricaded it – barring the brute within.
” Doomguide Glandon isn’t going to be pleased to hear about this…” – Cassyt
Onward! In the following chamber of the dead, a weird obelisk covered with sacred scripts and writings in Celestial. In the next, a strange ossuary with skeleton forms embedded in the plaster of the ceiling. Wisely sensing danger, our group smashed an empty jar onto the floor. Armed and armored skeletons exploded from the plaster and a fierce battle began. There were four with swords and two more with ancient bows. Their weapons found their mark here and there, but they were no match for our heroes.
By flickering lantern our heroes next came to a side chamber, some kind of tomb. Cassyt said it was likely the tomb of the famous Queen, Sedrair II.
“A mummified figure in magnificent apparel sits on a throne inlaid with ivory and semiprecious stones. It holds a golden dagger in its right hand and a balance in its left. A crown of gold and tarnished silver seems to float above its head. The whole scene is draped in cobwebs.”
Cassyt warned that the Queen was very fond of her treasures and very prone to vicious trickery. Our heroes paused for a moment of introspection – and then moved along, leaving Sedrair II with her eternal glory intact.
The passage ahead revealed a chamber containing shelves upon shelves of bones built low into the walls, with a single shelf at shoulder level completely around the perimeter of the room set with a single continual row of skulls. In archaic common, an inscription read, “A question speak you, and answer will these departed.” Our heroes dared to ask a question – and it was answered by a cacophony of voices. Our heroes asked a few questions about who and how and what was going on – but realized that these dead knew nothing but facts from centuries past – and moved ahead.
The floor of the next room was greatly disturbed by recent digging activity and the air grew tense. This chamber was once some kind of torture house for those doomed to suffer eternally. “In one crypt, the skeletons of three, very young children are posed as if they are strangling a grown man, while another portrays five people holding a skeletal man in a chair and “pouring” something from a greasy, brown vial down his throat.”
Easing quietly through this chamber, our group of stalwart adventurers heard distant voices ahead and around the corner… Allain advanced stealthily. Around the corner stood and array of four corpse wanderers – stone still – and in a chair, just at the edge of sight, snoozed a lizard-like hound, a “dragon-dog” of a sort, on a large low stool.
Allain quietly drew his bow, aimed for a round and let loose. Thwack! Right between the eyes! The creature fell forward – and the corpses lurched to attack. Spence used Turn Undead and sent three of the corpses fleeing. Howard could hear and decipher a human voice yelling in Draconic, “We’re under attack. Quickly, help me with these papers and through the portal!” These words set fire to the motivations of our heroes. Being the furthest forward, Allain rushed into the room and away from the corpses only to find a host of enemies within the chamber. There was a bald-headed tattooed man wearing sweeping red robes with a tall standing cowl shuffling papers at the desk, a thin boned man wearing a sort of black cape and a grey mask, and another fellow in heavy plate with a two handed sword! In addition, there were three more of the dragon dogs an several more undead from various corners.
“Get the caster!” The group yelled at one another. Spence cast Bless on all but Cassyt. Cassyt cast Sanctuary on Howard. Everyone yelled at him to run forward and kill the caster – and run he did. Right past a host of enemies and right up to the red-robed wizard and smashed him hard with a stone fist – teeth and blood went flying but still the caster stood. The plate mailed figure advanced toward Howard – who fled. Stavian dropped a cloud of fiery death on three of the dragon dogs and they died where they stood. Spence blasted the pale, narrow featured man down with holy fire. Cassyt fired with Sacred Flame, “No longer will you profane this place with your presence!”
Allain, pursued by undead, fled down the narrow fissure away from the fight, dragging several of the hungry corpses after him along with the two of the three fleeing from the Turning. He ran for his life – deep into darkness.
Stavian finally rounded the corner into the room to where he could see the caster. Just as the red wizard went for the portal, he took the shot – burning and searing the wizard to the ground.
But still many foes stood – the heavily armored figure finally cornered Howard the monk and chopped him to the floor with two mighty whacks. Two rounds later he did the same to Spence Collins. Cassyt brought Howard up – but he didn’t last long.
After several rounds of running and fighting and running again, Allain finally got his undead pursuers down to three and with a mighty leap and tumble, ran past them back down toward the fray.
The knight spewed blood through his visor and still fought on – his wasn’t the only blood slicking the floor. Nearly everyone was down at least once. Corpses approached from the shadows. Our heroes delivered mighty blows when it counted and had moments of pathetic failure just when it hurt the most. Finally, the last blow was struck by Allain. Only he and Cassyt still stood.
Bandages all around and some healing – all were eventually brought back to take stock of their discovery. A few sacks of coins. A dead mouse in one of the pouches of the dragon dogs. A red wizard. A necromancer and his notes.
Reading through the papers and maps, this wizard, one Rorreth Monforoth, reported to one Rath Modar, a captain of the Thayan Wizards. Rorreth’s journal recounted the Thayan wizards’s plans to assist the Cult of the Dragon in freeing Tiamat from her imprisonment and his reluctance in joining the cause of the exile Rath Modar. It seems, in fact, that Rath Modar has taken up with a splinter faction of the Red Wizards against or away from their lich-lord king, Szass Tam. Additionally, there are a set of documents from Rath Modar that charge Rorreth with creating a host of undead in the catacombs beneath Valhingen Cemetery and to use them to dig their way south and east beneath Phlan in an attempt to locate a lost or perhaps THE lost Pool of Radiance. There are extensive maps and calculations done that estimate the general direction, depth and distance that he must dig to end up beneath Valjevo Keep.
Your task done, Doomguide Glandon thanks your for your work and begs your leave, saying he has much to discuss with his fellow clergy, the Lord Regent, and the Lord Sage. He is especially pleased with Cassyt’s recounting of the events that transpired. As recognition of her efforts in the defeat of the Red Wizard, Doomguide Glandon inducts Cassyt into the Most Solemn Order of the Silent Shroud; the formal clergy of Kelemvor.
The Cult of the Dragon… They are on the move, but you have foiled their plans – at least in Phlan.
Yes. You all gain a level.