Breathing life back into Argent, and the Paladin

Obanar“Master, I told them we have no time. That Argent is under seige, that…”

“Hold, please dear friend. Start over.”

“This one, he’s dead.”

“I can see that, Rrowthar.”

“Of course you can, sir. Sorry, sir. What I mean is they want him back. They want him raised. But I told them they were needed, that the world needs them, that it will take too much time… but they won’t do it until we raise him.”

Obanar holds up his hand for a moment. The sound of something huge crashing against the walls of the city can be heard, distant and low. “I feel that I am missing something. Tell me your story, adventurers.”

Obanar listens intently as the party tells him of their fights with the elementals, the destruction of Three Forks, and the dragon that ended up killing Dow.

“That explains the sulfur smell…”

Obanar bows his head low. “Thank you. Truly, thank you all of you. That my trusted seneschal found you at all is something of a miracle. Perhaps the gods are smiling on us, though they slumber still. I must say that I am not accustomed to having such demands made of me… though it seems clear that you have not been afforded the courtesy due true heroes. You saved my seneschal, not knowing who he was or truly what danger lay ahead.”

“But sir, the city…”

“Yes, friend, but how much longer will it take to find heroes that can help us. These five stand against evil. They faced death and worse without hesitation, without fear, to protect you, an unknown to them.”

Obanar turns to the group. “I will perform the ritual. I’ve only got enough material to do this once… hopefully this doesn’t become a common occurrence, else all is lost. It will take 8 hours to coax his spirit back into his body. I think the city will hold until then, though we will see. Perhaps you should rest while I tend to your friend. I will need your help getting him to the Temple of the Dawn, however. Afterward, Rrowthar can show you to the Hall of Champions. Hopefully you can find some rest there.”

Before bedding down for the night, the team asks further about the events of the past day. Obanar explains that the giants seem to be working with some elementals to gather the pieces to the Divine Engine, a powerful device used during the Dawn War to imprison the Primordial known as Piranoth. He figures that if they can rebuild the device, they can use it to free Piranoth, which must not happen. He also explains that there are a number of things they can do to help – they can find out what happened to the Torrians, for they will need their help in the coming days. The team can try and locate Sky Metal, which Obanar can use to make the Implements of Argent for the adventurers. Or, the group can investigate the Divine Engine itself. The party decides to sleep on it.

As the team slumbers, somewhat fitfully due to the constant bombardment from the giants amassed outside the barriers, Obanar performs the Raise Dead ritual on Dow’s body. When he is done, a worn-out Guardian and the newly resurrected Dow make their way to the reflecting pool. Obanar sends his seneschal to gather the team.

However, before they can talk much, the ground around the reflecting pool erupts as a pair of Bulettes burrow burst out of the ground. The team goes into action once more, though Dow seems a bit out of sorts still. More creatures arrive from the tunnels left behind the Bulettes, and the group has quite a fight on their hands. Obanar immediately moves to the status of Erathis at one end of the pool, trying to reactivate the defenses in this area and stop the threat. A basilisk lumbers out of the nearest hole and gazes upon Obanar, slowing him only temporarily. The basilisk catches Dow in its gaze as well, who nearly becomes petrified before shaking off the curse.

Eventually, Obanar is able to turn the defenses back on just as the team finishes off nearly the entire attacking force. The surviving monster, a bulette, dives back into the ground and disappears. Obanar races to the reflecting pool, and waving a hand over its still waters, brings up a map of the city which he uses to locate more intruders. "Damnit! I had hoped this wouldn’t happen, but during the time that I was tending to your friend, the city’s defenses weakened and now we must stop these intruders before going further. “I will go to the Guardian’s Tower to fix the rest of the defenses. Please, follow Rrowthar and take care of this!”

In a very run-down part of the city, the group comes across a large, pulsing ball of elemental energy in the middle of a courtyard. Here, huge Magma Striders, Magma Brutes and Earth Gravelshards appear from over and between buildings to surround and pummel the heroes. A hill-giant shaman directs the crowd, and the escaped Bulette reappears to finish off the adventurers.

Of course, it never works that way, does it?

Orden’s spirit companions block the way for one of the elementals to reach the fray. In fact, the companion takes out two of the Gravelshards before the creatures wise to its threat. The rest of the team locks down the fight with extreme efficiency, and soon all of the elementals lie dead in the street. Ashoril finds a ritual scroll on the hill giant and uses it to close the rift, though not before unleashing a huge blast of energy which rocks the entire party.

Rrowthar takes them all to the Guardian’s Tower, where the distraught Obanar tells them that there are a few last intruders… but they are in his own tower…

The Torrian
Why's he so special?

You move a short distance from the building, watching as glowing plumes of acrid smoke rise into the air, lit from within by burning embers. The ancient wood, the papers, books and the broken furniture all made good kindling for the fire, and the house is burning exceptionally fast now. The ghost is on his knees, his body sobbing as he watches his mansion burn down.

“I thought they had left, I thought they were running when you came, I thought I could be left alone. I didn’t do anything to them!”

The Torrian urgently asks, “Did you kill them? Kill them all?”

“Oh no… no no no no no no… you only killed one of them? Ones that were setting fires? He knows then, he must know!”

WHO?” shouts the team over the roar of the fire.

“The dragon…”

A glowing creature high in the sky circles above the charred team, and as they watch it pitches violently down toward the ground, wheeling into a path that takes it low over their heads. As it gets closer, they can clearly see that it’s a dragon, a terrible thing seemingly made of fire and brimstone instead of flesh and bone. It sails overhead, scanning the destruction, and lets out a terrible roar before continuing over the house. The ground splits and erupts, lava and fire belching forth. The stench of sulfur stings the nose as ash and fumes wash over them in its wake.

Orden cocks his head… he can hear the Dragon from the distance, screaming at his followers in Primordial. Orden translates..

376 playtest mm3COWARDLY, SCUTTLING, WORTHLESS, CAVE MAGGOTS!” The dragon, an absolutely enormous thing, paces and lunges within a small group of humanoids. The dragon seems to be doing what it can to herd the two smallest creatures into the center. The larger creatures, some bulky and huge, others wreathed in flame back away slowly as the dragon continues to berate and taunt the smallest two. Finally, tired of playing, it pounces and pins both beneath flaming feet, and in quick succession rips the blue-skinned creatures in two. “THAT SHOULD STOP THEM FROM BEING SO CLEVER!”

The dragon turns to the rest of the followers, shrieking. They visibly shake and shrink in the dragon’s presence… “THE TORRIAN AND HIS ALLIES STILL LIVE!” pointing with one flaming wing to the house and beyond… “DESTROY HIM! DESTROY THEM ALL! OR FACE ME INSTEAD YOU INSIPID COWARDS!”

A hard battle comes next. Two enormous creatures made of stone and fury pummel the team as fiery things launch blasts of fire into the heroes. Sparking, flaming things dart in and out of the melee, going straight for the Torrian, though he is protected now. One by one, the elemental monsters fall to the swords and spells of the party, until all that is left is one of the stony things. He turns and runs, weathering some final blows from the party…

… but finds himself crushed until the massive claws of our the Volcanic Dragon, returned to finish the job. Waves of acidic fumes roll off the terrible creature, choking all those that surround it. He immediately sets his sights on the Torrian, and laughs off inquiries from the tiny humans.

However, the relentless taunting of the Fighter and the Paladin are able to open a window of opportunity for the others. Aluven and Ashoril run with the Torrian away from the fight, across the fields, searching desperately for anywhere to hide.

Back at the house, Dow and Zorian’s attacks clang uselessly off the dragon’s stony body, and the dragon makes quick work of them both. Though, even in the middle of the fight, Dow manages to enshroud Zorian’s dying body with a magical cloth to save his life.

Ashoril finds a rocky outcropping large enough to hold the three of them, and sends down a bolt of lightning to mark the spot for his allies, before diving in and attempting to hide from the awful beast.

As Dow draws the attention of the dragon, Zorian returns to the living. Soon, however, both Zorian and Dow lie dying in the grass next to the burning building, bleeding profusely from many bite and claw marks. The dragon looks around and cannot find the Torrian. With a roar of anger, he flies back to where he had dismembered the Drow, picks up something off the ground, and disappears into the distance.

Orden runs back as quickly as he can across the battlefield, and reaches Zorian first. Dow has not stabilized; the wounds too deep, he is bleeding out just a short distance away. As Zorian takes in his first breath again, Dow takes his last.

The Torrian, Rrowthar is safe, however… he explains to the team that Heroes such as them are needed, for a grave threat is returning to the world. Argent needs them. A steely-eyed Ashoril insists that no such help with be given unless the most stalwart champion, Dow, be raised from the dead. After some negotiation, the Torrian agrees to refer the matter to his master, Obanar, the Last Guardian of Argent.

Around Dow’s dead body, Rrowthar begins inscribing the runes for the portal ritual that will take them all to the lost city of Argent…

The Mansion
A simple haunting, or a trap?

156 kincep mansionAhead of our intrepid adventurers rises the swaybacked bulk of a once-grand house looming over a garden gone wild with creeping vines, tall weeds, and disheveled ornamental trees. Here and there, mossy statues and stone benches stand in the shade. At ground level stands a pair of doors, pockmarked by the elements and wreathed in masses of ivy. Traces of a brick patio are faintly visible through the weeds and moss that blanket the ground. A few freshly-cracked, sagging stairs rise perhaps 10 feet to a pair of weather-beaten doors flanked by filthy windows. A pair of moss-covered statues stand on the ground, one on each side of the stairs. Five more statues stand beneath the ancient tree. Gargoyles sit on the corners of the house… Observant members note that they’ve moved in order to watch their approach. The timbers and floorboards creak loudly as they come to the door, a constant unnerving cacophony in their ears…

The inside of the mansion is lifeless. It has seen better days, and the creaking of dry, ancient timbers is even worse in here. The team makes its way through a couple of rooms, mostly filled with musty fragments of furniture. The kitchen, however, is filled with rotting leftovers from whomever was last using it… fairly recently. The pantry off the kitchen is colder than the rest of the house… some sort of spell keeps it as such.

Further into the house, in what appears to be a ballroom-turned-workroom, the team finds an interesting armoire with a chest next to. As Aluven investigates, a giant gaping maw appears in the chest, and it tries to swallow him whole. And before the rest of the team can spring into action, a pair of Cloakers drop from the ceiling, wrapping themselves around the heroes.

Who knows if it was the constant unnerving moan from the Cloakers or the creepy old house, but our party had a tough time with this force of lurkers. Fighting from the inside of a large creature has its difficulties, to be sure. Eventually, however, the last moan faded as the creatures were slaughtered, and the hunt continued.

Upstairs, the team meets one Jaccobux Kincep, once the owner of the mansion, he is now simply a ghost, still trying his best to read everything in his library. Dow and Jaccobux get off to a rough start… our Paladin seems to still be shaken from the ambush below and is not in the mood to converse with those beyond the grave.

And truly, Jaccobux wants to be left alone, that’s all he’s ever wanted. He explains that there was a group of elementals and drow and others there, that they asked him for some information about the Divine Engine, but that generally they left each other alone. They left as the heroes had approached…

… as they talk, Orden hears a scream from somewhere else in the mansion, and others notice that the air is becoming smoky. While they had been talking, various fires had been lit around the mansion. It soon becomes clear that the screams are coming from the stables outside, though everyone is having a tough time getting there. Zorian goes to the kitchen and begins dumping bucketfuls of water onto any fires he can, buying time for the party to get out. Ashoril, remembering the cold pantry, spends some time to learn its secrets. Orden, while helping the distraught ghost collect important books and papers to save, kills an intruder – a creature made of spark and flame, apparently responsible for starting the fires.

With no other route to escape, Dow ends up jumping out the window and crashing through the stables’ roof. Inside, he can barely make out the bound figure of a strange, lion-like humanoid, struggling against his bonds and coughing on the acrid smoke. Ashoril, for a short time able to control the cold from the pantry, is able to clear a path to safety for Dow and the fallen creature, who they later learn is known as a Torrian.

Harvest Festival
... and so it begins

Harvest festivalAs its name implies, the Town of Three Forks sits at the junction of three rivers, colloquially named the Placid, the Crooked and the Shadowed. Together, the make the Hammerswell, a long tumultuous river that flows all the way to the Perembor Strait. It’s a thriving farming community, filled with ale-loving and hard-working folks.

It’s Harvest Festival in Three Forks. Despite the conflicts that rage across the land, the townspeople have made an effort to keep to their rituals, attempting to maintain some semblance of a normal life. Plus it’s a good draw – it brings in lots of visitors, fills up the inns, keeps the shopkeepers happy and gives the Ladies of the Night a chance to do some “networking”. This year it’s a bit smaller than usual – many have been killed or are away at war, and the good people of Three Forks have given what they could to the war effort. One wouldn’t really know it though, looking around. The sun-burned faces, brilliant dresses and flashes of teeth all speak to a much-needed celebration.

It’s late afternoon in the main square. In the center has been set up a sparring competition in the reflecting pool. Wooden sticks and shields take the place of real weapons, but the combatants seem to be going at it with real furor. A young lad, Zorian, is the current champion. Having bested a dozen others his body is covered in bruises, cuts and blood, but he’s still grinning all the same. A good-sized crowd has gathered, and spectators are actively betting.

All around the square are carts brimming with fruits, vegetables, grains and wares from the community. Kegs of ale are scattered throughout; jesters and stilted-actors juggle and stamp their way through the crowd. Sorcerers and wizards perform cantrips for the kids, there’s a band playing. Crafty vendors have set up games of luck and chance as well as a raffle. A beautiful farm girl collects gold pieces at the kissing booth; at the other kissing booth sits a walrus, though he’s not currently getting any traffic. At the traveling salesman, a Sorcerer has purchased a strange half of a map

On the edges of the square, children pile onto carts of hay to ride out into the fields – braving the “zombies” and other Horrors of the Fields before returning to buy more sweets. A new challenger has appeared at the sparring pool – a Half-Elf paladin, and while he’s making the fight much more interesting than previous opponents, he does seem to be getting worked over a bit.

Some time later, just as the sun kisses the horizon, a silence washes over the merry-makers. The crowd parts as one of the horse and carts used for the rides comes clattering to a halt in the middle of the square. It carries no passengers, nor does it have a driver. The horse is panting and looks sickly… one of its eyes lays against its cheek, out of its socket and oozing. The horse’s jaw is clearly broken. Its good eye scans back and forth, and the horse skitters at the slightest movement. A few weak constitutions in the crowd vomit. Eventually, someone from the crowd moves forward, reaching out to calm the steed, who rears up to strike. Gasps are heard as people see the gashes and blood all along the horse’s underside….

The whinny of the horse changes into what could only be called a scream, collapsing to the side. The injured eye detaches itself, rolling to a stop a few feet away. A woman screams, the crowd panics. The cart has tumbled over as well, spilling a mixture of hay, leftover food… along with blood, ooze, and other unidentifiable bits.

Suddenly, a series of piercing howls silence and freeze the crowd once more. Eyes dart nervously around trying to find the source of this newest threat… the earth begins to shake, fissures opening in the town square. A thunderous crack is heard as the obelisk in the town square shatters at its base, falling toward the food carts… from the dust emerge the source of the howls – huge dog-like creatures. But instead of hair, they are covered in three-foot spines…

S320x240Though most of the crowd panics, it quickly becomes clear that there at least a few hardened veterans present. In an instant, the Paladin summons his armor back from the Void and grabs his long sword to investigate the cart. A Shaman and the Sorcerer barely escape the falling obelisk and come up immediately looking for a fight. Zorian however has no time to put on his armor – he simply grabs his flail and heads toward the nearest Dread Hound.

A blast of lightning cracks through the air – the apparent leader of the Hounds appears, a Dragonborn Elementalist. After cutting through the first of the hounds, Zorian sets upon the Dragonborn. From the kissing booth, the walrus begins to shuffle toward the fight as well, before tranforming into a young man. This shape-shifting Druid becomes quite the wily opponent for the enemies.

At the overturned cart, the Paladin discovers yet another threat; a viscous blob rises up out of the carnage, crackling with terrible elemental energies. The Sorcerer, Ashoril the Lucky, comes to help out the Paladin after clearing out a few of the Hounds with his Chaos Bolt.

Some in the crowd stop fleeing to watch in awe as this varied group of adventurers cut down their foes. They watch a dragonling dart about, controlled by the Sorcerer and becoming the center of magic for fiery spells. Gasps can be heard as the Druid flits around his foes, gliding across water that appears from no where before shattering into a thousand crabs that bite at his enemies. Every smash of the horrible Ooze against the stalwart Paladin, and the crunch of jaws on Zorian’s unarmored body cause a cry from the crowd. And in the center of it all, the calm Shaman, channeling his ancestors who move through the battlefield to aid their allies.

More Dread Hounds appear, their stench and fury, jaws and claws ripping through the crowds that remain, hemming them in before turning their attention against the adventurer threat. Though, they all eventually prove to be outmatched by the motley crew, and all end up dead soon enough. The square is quiet again save the keening of loved ones cradling the dead.

An investigation of the broken obelisk reveals the presence of residual arcanic energies, and the Mayor is asked about as he talks with the adventurers. “It’s been relatively quiet for the past months around here. The Orcs seem much more interested in Jestril these days and the Dragons are keeping to themselves as well. There’s been time to shore up defenses up against the Eastern Wastes and whatnot, and we’ve had a pretty good season in fact. But as for the Obelisk, well… we’d always written it off as some quirk of its making, that there was arcanic energy there. It has stood for hundreds of years there, and some say it contains a piece of the Great Machine, but… I never figured it was actually true. Is that what this was about?”

Without being able to answer that, the band of merry adventurers take their leave to investigate. Aluven changes into a wolf and begins tracking down where the enemies came from. As he does, the rest of the party continues looking for clues, though they only come up with a few coins and an exotic knife, one that can supposedly open temporary doors into another dimension.

Aluven picks up the trail, and the party agrees to set off. The trails leads them across farmland and through a little woods. As they step out of the a copse of trees, they see the mansion in the distance. More or less your standard horror fair – crooked, pointy, tiny windows, shutters flapping in the wind, bats – the works. Even from here they can hear creaks and groans as the timbers and foundation settle. Moss-covered statues stand next to the door. A road cuts across in front, leading through a small orchard and to the front of the manor. Blocking the road is a burning pile of logs; there appears to be a body lying in front of the pyre. The yard around the mansion is surrounded by a stone wall, and outside of that are corn fields that look to be in severe disrepair. The corn is high, rotting and blackened on the stalk. Most of the scarecrows lay or hang in tatters on their posts… the few that are in one piece are well on their way though.

Aluven pads around the property, and it is decided that the burning pile of logs looks a bit like a trap, so they will cut through the fields. However, guarding the fields are a set of Scarecrows, apparently constructed by the mansion’s owner to scare off intruders. The adventurers have to carve their way through the straw-filled horrors, enduring their sharp claws and clouds of poisonous dust before being able to continue to the mansion… however, the element of surprise may be gone now…

A new adventure...
Who will save Perembor, and perhaps the world?

In the Court of the Drow Queen
In which our Heroes are presented a one-sided choice
Trapped in Thelfiosa
In which our Heroes attempt to flee the drow-infested Eladrin city of Thelfiosa undetected
The Next Step Must Be Decided

“Eastern Orcs have Inferno, horde leader is Nask Silverfang. Intends to unite all orcs. Can send message to him. What to do next? In Jestril.”

“Scouts already march to eastern smoke. Kamulke is assisting Elves. Something stirs in Aruth. Learn what you can on your way home. Bring allies soon.”

Trouble at the Prison, Part I
In which our heroes try to fix the prison problem
  • After a terse interrogation, the Orc Champion’s neck meets the sharp edge of Laeryth’s fullblade. The only useful item gleaned from the questioning, the orc’s head, is placed in a sack as evidence for the Council, and takes the nearest exit – a ladder leading to the Dwarven District. The Orc scouting party was traveling very light and without markings, apparently as an effort to blend in more effectively.
  • The party makes its way back to the Horn of Valir for some much needed rest. They feel stronger when they wake, and Khalsig no longer feels like taking ** from bloodied bad guys.
  • The Council is impressed with the discovery of the hole and are working to plug it up before the Orcish horde arrives. They mention that the breach appears to have been made by an Artifact much like the one the Party rescued near Cartha. Such stones were used to quickly move massive amounts of land in order to carve out a place for Jestril.
  • The Party also learns that Lugo, the half-eaten man in the sewers, is a known trader of illicit goods and that the Jester’s Horse is a seedy brothel in the Eastern Quarter.
  • Our heroes decide to take on the problem going on at the Magister prison. They are led to the gates and locked in.
  • Inside the prison tower, the characters choose to take the large elevator platform to the top of the tower and work their way down. A small round artifact granted the party by ??? activates the platform, and Lenk pulls a nearby lever to direct the platform skyward.
  • As they ascend the prison tower, the characters get the feeling that something is wrong. Most of the party has the good sense to move to the walls, but a confused Firrian remains in the center of the platform. He soon finds himself smashed between the solid wood of the platform and a familiar form – the many-mouthed blob of Agnoth. Both the Eladrin and the platform take significant damage from the falling monstrosity, and the party realizes that they are now descending the smooth-walled shaft.
  • His free-fall broken by Firrian, Agnoth sets upon the party.
  • Lenk is pretty sure that the platform is broken, but cannot figure out how just yet. As the battle rages, Firrian is able to make his way to the lock and lever mechanisms. He ends up wasting a good deal of time working out that the platform is broken, it could maybe be fixed by getting underneath the platform, and the failure was mechanical, not arcane.
  • The rest of the party is picking up steam against the form of Agnoth, just as the platform accelerates toward certain doom. As the team passes by the main hall where they entered, they are no closer to figuring out what to do than when they started. The speed of the platform is such now that movement becomes difficult.
  • Agnoth’s many mouths howl witheringly as the final blow is struck. With the platform plunging ever faster and no discernible options left to his weak brain, Firrian takes his longsword off his back and with a perfect strike, managed to wedge it between the platform and the wall. As he pulls, trying to slow the elevator, the sword shatters, sending a longish piece skyward. The platform smashes into the bottom of the shaft, and the party needs time afterward to lick their wounds.
  • The bottom floor of the prison is filled with a cacophony of tortured screams and blood-thirsty voices. The team recognizes this place – this is where they were questioned in the long ago after retrieving the first Artifact.
  • Readied for more trials, the team moves out. Laeryth sneaks up ahead and down a familiar passageway. Soon, however, he encounters an inky blackness that the sunrods seem unable to penetrate. Slowly, he moves into the darkness; he can see a short distance once inside, but that is about it. Nothing seems too out of place yet.
  • Rounding the corner, in the interrogation room itself is a what-used-to-be-human-but-is-now-becoming-another-Agnoth mage, apparently attempting to drain the life from a Council mage. This Agnoth form is incomplete, legs engulfed within the rotting ooze of Agnoth, a large tentacle instead of an arm. Separating the party from the scene is a solid sheet of “glass”.
  • Lenk and Laeryth spring into action first, shattering the glass and interrupting the life-draining being performed by the new Agnoth. It turns to face its new challengers, and a familiar visage greets our heroes. Extending his massive, tentacled arm, a much more powerful Jonn shrieks at the party: “YOU! TRAITORS! YOU LEFT ME HERE TO DIE!”
  • Surprised and confused by the revelation of Jonn’s fate, Firrian and Khalsig are gobsmacked and late to act. From the shadowy corners of the room appear four warriors, and they descend upon our party, splitting and isolating them…

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