The Scales of War

In the Presence of Maddness
The heroes face off against the Cult of Exquisit Agony

Separated from his allies and badly injured, Samhain had no choice but to rely on his trusty Robe of Contingency, which has saved his bacon on more than one occasion. If he stayed to fight, he knew he would be finished so he fled, knowing his enemies would have a chance to attack him but also knowing that his Robe of Contingency would teleport him to safety, if the blow did not kill him. “Evandra favors the risky” he said to himself and he turned to run. Seizing the opportunity, the skeletons lashed out at Samhain amazingly, they all missed – all but one. With a it’s wicked claw, the skeletal slasher lashed out and gashed Sam across the back. Sam spun through the air, spraying the walls with his blood as he did but before his body could hit the ground, he was teleported away to safety and his body washed in healing energy.

Boreas and Khort finished off the enemies in front of them and quickly made their way up the steep cliff to join Samhain in the battle that was able to continue up there, while Dunedin and Thew chased the remaining cultist down a side passage. With Boreas and Khort engaged with the skeletal slashers and the ghost, Sam blasted away at the enemy and within moments, all of the enemies that had only moments ago beat Sam to a pulp lay motionless on the floor.

Meanwhile, Thew chased after the remaining cultist while Dunedin tagged along with trepidation about charging headlong down an unfamiliar corridor – especially one where chanting and flickering light could be seen and heard just around the next bend. With a flick of his wrist, Dunedin flung a spell down the hall and stopped the cultist in his tracks. Thew was upon him in an instant and quickly cut him down.

The Heroes regrouped and made their way down the corridor towards where they heard the chanting. As they did, another cultist made his way around the corner but he was deep in thought and nearly ran headlong into Boreas – or would have had Boreas’ massive pick not intercepted him first. As they group finished off the wayward cultist, they quickly realized that the chanting had stopped. No sooner did they make this realization they were confronted by three more cultists and …..something. This ‘thing’ was the very definition of an abomination. It’s bloated skin was covered in wailing, toothy maws that vomited a vile ichor as the monstrosity greedily approached the heroes upon cloven hooves. Resisting the urge to flee the horrific scene, the heroes launched themselves into the enemy. The battle was vicious, yet swift and within moments all of the grotesque fiends lay dead on the cold stone floor. As the party searched the room, they found the hag they had come to see bound, beaten yet alive in a small alcove. With little time to waste, they left the unconscious hag where she was while they finished searching the complex.

With the cavern’s clear, the heroes moved to the Dwarven complex section of the Fist of Mourning. They entered through the main doors and found themselves yet again battling the repulsive members of this awful cult. Each room they moved through they encountered abominations in every sense of the word. After a ferocious battle with a beholder, the heroes faced off with the leader of the cult, Obsen, and some of the Slaad body guards. The battle tapped every last resource the group had and nearly resulted in the death of Khort and Dunedin but in the end the Brindol Brigade prevailed.

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I Seer What You Did There
A side quest to potential disaster

Several weeks after the battle for Overlook, the Brindol Brigade was rested and ready for action, once again. Having healed the wounds suffered in the battle against General Zithiruun and helping to heal those sustained by Overlook, he heroes were ready to dig deeper into the cause of the General’s attack and to get to the root of the Githyanki’s schemes.

Before they could get started, though, Dunedin came to the group and requested assistance in seeking out a Seer who lived in the mountains south of Overlook. Dunedin’s mentor in the Fey Wild felt that she may be able to provide the group with information regarding the extensive network of portals between planes in the area and how the General intended to use them. With provisions secured, the group headed off into the mountains in search of the old hag.

After several days of travel, the heroes found themselves at the opening to a large cave. They cautiously entered and were soon approached by a hideous hag. It became clear after speaking to her that she was attempting to hide something – possibly even deceive the party. After a few more prying questions, the hag grew frustrated and with a roar, changed before their very eyes into a hulking blue skinned humanoid that stood nearly 9ft tall. “Gragh! Enough of these games. I shall flay the flesh from your bodies and make soup from your bones!” the beast said as it drew a massive great sword.

The battle was on and was quickly joined by two of the Oni’s companions – a Bullette and Firelasher made of out pure magma. The battle was a very difficult ones as the Oni kept turning invisible and re-positioning himself in the battlefield. After several long minutes, the heroes prevailed but were badly injured and had used many of their innate powers.

With the hag not what she seemed, the heroes pressed on to see if something had happened to her or if she had been an Oni all along. They had two options in front of them – a large set of double doors or a natural passage that lead deeper into the cavern. Choosing the natural cavern, they pressed on and soon heard the faint ping of hammer on stone. Curving set of natural steps, the came upon a group of Orc’s mining for ore while a strange 4 legged beast used it’s trunk like snout to blast apart the chucks of ore the orcs were freeing from the wall. Standing behind the miners were two hideously deformed humans who’s skin distended and shifted while the heroes looked on. It was as if something was crawling under its skin. And it became evident exactly what was causing this to happen midway through the ensuing battle when one of the humans, having received a terrible wound from Boreas, tore at its skin and ripped it away to reveal a Slaad underneath. The Slaad tore from its fleshy prison and attacked Boreas. It sunk it’s claws deep into the massive Goliath and implanted into him some sort of parasite. Boreas could feel it work its way under his skin and deeper into his body. Pushing the thought of one of those things bursting from his own body, Boreas fought on and finished the Slaad while the Thew engaged the 4 legged creature. Dunedin and Samhain took down the 4 orc miners with a series of quick spells before jumping through a dimensional door Dunedin created. They exited the door atop a 30ft cliff that bordered the mine. From atop this cliff, they could see another chamber that extended into the darkness behind them. They rained down magical firepower on the remaining enemies but the remaining Slaad attempted to flee down a side passage that paralleled the higher passage behind Sam and Dunedin. Thinking to flank the fleeing enemy, Samhain took a risk ran off down the darkened chamber behind him. The risk, however, did not pay off for Sam found himself in the middle of a new room and surrounded by the reanimated skeletons of Dwarves. He could only manage a quick cry for help before the skeletons surrounded him and beat him to a pulp. He was barely able to stand and barely clung onto life.

View
The Final Battle

Once a gain, the heroes are awakened to Kalad pounding on their door and requesting their presence in the War Room. When they arrive, they are told that a troop of soldiers was sent out last night to investigate reports of enemy activity near Caer Overlook and they have yet to return. The Brindol Brigade is asked to investigate.

As the heroes entered the courtyard where the soldiers disappeared they were confronted with a stomach turning site: Scattered around the open courtyard, and across the stoops of the nearby buildings, were the corpses of dozens of Overlook’s soldiers. Some are badly burned, some slashed
to ribbons, and some rotting as though they’d lain dead for weeks on end. Two dragonborn in heavy armor waited across the courtyard; one stood beside a large, red-scaled reptile exhaling large puffs of smoke.
“Finally” says one of the Dragonborn “I thought we were going to have to slay another dozen of these filthy dwarves to get ‘the heroes of Overlook’ down here…… not that we would have minded.” With a wicket grin, the Dragonborn drew their weapons and charged in to attack. With weapons ready, the Brindol Brigade charged forward, seeking revenge.

The battle waged on for only a few brief moments before a horrific boom reverberated from a nearby building as a massive beast soared over the rooftop, knocking several of the stones from their place. What appeared to be a dead dragon, its scales dull, its gray leather skin showing between the gaps, rose into the air on broken wings. The entire top of its jaw was missing, showing upward pointing teeth and a worm-like tongue that thrashed about with a mind of its own.
And riding atop that beast was a humanoid figure clad in heavy hides, contained within a body harness of iron joints and leather straps. His limbs and face were gaunt, nearly desiccated. Several old wounds hung open, leaking trails of blood and puss, showing bare bone in some spots
and metal plates in others. But despite his old injuries and deformities, his narrow features and his yellowed, leathery skin clearly marked him as one of the dread githyanki, raiders and conquerors of the Astral Sea.
“At last we meet, Samhain” he calls out as he dismounts his dragon. “Someone has big plans for you.” Turning to his Dragonborn companions:“Take the little one alive!” he calls out as he wades into battle.

The ensuing melee was one for the ages. Right off the bat, the dragon hovered over the heroes and let loose with a devastating breath weapon attack that dropped Dunedin to the ground, dying. His companions rushed to his aid and brought him back into the fight, for his skills were desperately needed. The onslaught was becoming too much for the heroes to withstand so Sink sought to even the odds a little bit. He drew his Githyanki silver sword and charged General Zithiruun – the sword biting deep into his flesh. Sink called upon the Astral powers of the sword and teleported Zithiruun to another plane of existence. With the General momentarily out of the battle, the heroes focused their attacks on the remaining Dragonborn and the Fire Belcher. They quickly fell and only the undead dragon remained when Zithirrun returned from his astral gaunt. Focusing their attacks, the dragon soon fell and Zithiruun was left to battle the heroes on his own. Knowing his plans for redemption had been thwarted, he sought to make the one that thrust all of this upon him pay – Samhain. He charged the halfling with his sword drawn: “Prepare to meet you sister” he sneered as to tore into Samhain with spinning double slash of his sword. The wounds inflicted were grievous and Samhain fell to the ground dying. In a matter of moments, the rest of the Brigade was upon the General and he was cut down.

Kort rushed to Samhain’s side and administered a healing potion to his fallen friend. Badly wounded, but alive, Samhain stood up and joined his friends. Searching the bodies of the enemies yield no clues or treasure other than the magical sword used by the General.

View
The War Council
The Temple Between - Skill Challenge

Elder Stonefist’s face blanches at the report given by Samhain. “The threat to Overlook is far greater than we had feared. It would appear that this is much more than a simply attack on our city by the foul denizens that inhabit the depths of the mountains to the west. This appears to be a well-orchestrated attack who’s planning must have taken many months. I have never heard of this general, you speak of but one can only assume he is a major part of this attack, no?”
“We have no time to waste. Please, come with Durkik and Kalad and I for me must adjourn to the War Room with the rest of the Council to plan for the defense of Overlook.” the Elder says.
The Elder turns and whisks all of you away through the twisted corridors of Stonehammer. As you proceed to the War Room, Durkik approaches the group and speaks in a hushed, reverent tone: “Did you… per chance, recover the Incunabulum?”

[Khort]
Khort steps forward, gesturing to Samhain to bring forward the book. “We did, with much difficulty, and now can use it to aid our defense. How goes the preparations here?"

[DM]
Durkik takes the book into his hands and you can see his eyes well up with tears as he looks upon the sacred tome. “Thank you…” he utters before his voice cracks. He hands over a bag of coins and gems containing the promised sum of $3600 gp.
Before he can respond to your question you find yourselves, along with the present members of the council, High Priest Durkik, and several officers, standing in a perfectly square room of stone walls. A table in the center of the room boasts an intricate model of Overlook, while each of the walls showcases maps of the surrounding area.
Great Elder Morgoff asks Durkik to offer a prayer to Moradin to open the meeting. Holding the Incunabulum Primeval his hands, Durkik says a prayer of guidance as you prepare to plan for the defense of Overlook. Warmth fills the room as he completes the prayer.
Once done, the Elder says, “Overlook is a martial city. We have mighty walls, strong soldiers. But we are accustomed to fighting foes such as orcs, not monstrous enemies such as trolls, who rise again each time they fall. My friends," he says looking to the Heroes, "you have more experience with such things. Will you help us plan? And would you make yourselves available to us throughout the siege, to deal with such dangers as our guards— skilled though they are—are unprepared to face? I offer you what reward I can for your help, though I cannot cite you numbers or amounts until I see what resources remain when— if—Overlook survives the coming days.”

[Khort]
Khort smiles, looking over the large city. He sees the ins and outs of the alleyways, and where all of the entrances are, and he begins to imagine, in his head, those streets and alleyways as a maze, much like the one he was trapped in for his younger life. He starts to sketch on a small piece of parchment, and he hands it to the Elder. “How about we blockade certain alleys, like so, to make it harder for the enemies who do get through to surpass our secondary defenses? Or perhaps create a situation where, if we must evacuate, we can lay our own siege for a secondary attack, trapping them inside their own objective?”
(I’m assuming this is a dungeoneering check. The invisible castle site was down as I wrote this, so I rolled the one on my desk. If that’s not okay/you want more than honor system, that’s cool, I’ll go back and roll again. I imagine you will, because I straight up rolled an eighteen. Sigh. I was hoping it’d be like an eighteen so I wouldn’t sound like “AHA! Check that out! No verification, but 20 20 20 20 20!” Anyway… if you take the 18, it’d be plus 6 for dungeoneering (24) or plus 12 if it’s history (30).

[Dunedin]
“Khort, your plan is sound. Limiting the avenues of the enemy will greatly aid our ability to combat them,” says Dunedin. "If their forces are composed similarly to those we saw in the temple, "he continues turning to Elder Morgoff, “we will need to have the ability to slow their Quickling runners. Traps, pitfalls, pitch fields, anything to slow these buzzing kniflings. If we can steer them into courts without exit, it would greatly advantage us.”
Dunedin rubs his thumb and forefinger together in thought, "And fire. If there are trolls we will need to be sure to burn them so that the foul beasts cannot regenerate. Perhaps the fields of pitch that I suggested to slow the Quickling can serve two purposes.
“Ah, an eye in the sky in this battle would be better than serving cucumber pie!” Dunedin shifts excitedly from foot to foot. He slows his dance when his companions exhibit no enthusiasm to his reference to cucumber pie. “Ah, well, yes. To be able to see the enemy from above and relay their movements would be of tremendous use to us. And, well, there is a trick up my sleeve that will allow this.” Again, Dunedin begins a Fey jig. “If we have just a few minutes’ notice of the enemy’s assault, I can perform a ritual allowing Brandon to grow large enough for me to mount him. We can then soar above the city and monitor the movement of our foe.” Dunedin grins and winks at Sink.

[DM]
[OOC: Dungeoneering is not one of the skills associated with the skill challenge, however, that was a great use of the skill and I will give you credit for it.
To figure out how to best trap the enemy and use the geography of the city, use an Insight check or even Thievery to plan traps.
Skills to be used (note: as with Khort’s last roll, I will not penalize the group for using other skills in an effective way.
History, Insight, Intimidate, Religion, Thievery
Skill challenge:
8 successes before 3 failure.
Check Count: Success: 1 Failure: 0]
“While we have an aviary of griffons and riders, an experienced eye in the sky would certainly be of great use. If there was a way you could communicate to group forces while air born we could better direct our forces and prepare for attacks.” says Kalad, the Master of Arms for Overlook
[OOC: Keep the ideas flowing. I am keeping track of it all.]

[Khort]
Khort considers Dunedin’s plan and nods with approval. “If we limit them on the air and limit them on the gound in their movement, then that still leaves them with their intellect. They may think their way around our obstacles, particularly if they survive our attempts to char them. Hmm.”
Khort considers what he knows of the trolls and their history in an attempt to know what, traditionally, their plan of attack is, so he can think of a counter.
History roll: 14 http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3197970/

[Dunedin]
Dunedin rubs his hairless chin. He says softly, “When I was flying above the Vale with the Raven Queen I saw fissures, portals from other planes. These may be used by Sharshan and General Zithirrun to attempt to overrun Overlook. Perhaps if I concentrate I can recall specifically where the cracks within Overlook are located.”
Tightening his fingers into a fist, Dunedin closes his eyes and looks inwardly searching his memory. He bends at the knee lowering his torso. With his Eladrin bottom hovering inches from the ground, Dunedin pulls draws his elbows into his core. He clenches his fist tightly. Concentration is expressed throughout his body as Dunedin exerts fully to extract memories from his inner being. He grits his teeth. He grunts. Finally he sighs.
http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3197953/
“Crap,” the party thinks they hear dribble from Dunedin.
[OOC – he’s trying to locate a probably portal of entry for the enemy]

[DM]
[OOC: I want to do this round robin style so no more rolls from Pat or Neal until Kevin, Ken and Shawn take a turn.
Kort does his best to recall previous sieges and tactics used to repel them throughout history, however, his knowledge is limited due to his time spent in the maze and his recollection of past events is hazy at best.
[OOC: Neal’s history check fails.]
Dunedin searches the deep recesses of his mind and conjures up an image of the portals he saw through out the Vale. In doing so, he thinks he can accurately guess where the troops have amassed and where they may be attacking from.
[OOC: Pat’s Insight check passes. While this does not count as a a success, it does grant a +2 to all rolls until someone fails at a roll. Insight can only be used once.]
[Current status of Skill Challenge: 1/8 Success, 1/3 failure]

[Boreas]
OK, least thematic post ever, but I just can’t keep up here.
Ryan, what I would like to do is see if I can sneak off, quickly, and buy some kind of sight augmentation thing….like dwarven binoculars, or whatever; and climb to a high spot, in Overlook, and see if I can see anything that might help us. If we got any clue to direction; from other, previous skill checks, I will climb and look that way. Anything I can see? Do I need to roll to look, or can I just climb?
Rolling Athletics to climb and re-rolling, with my racial trait: Little Better

[DM]
[OOC: I think they may be a better or more effective way to use Athletics that climbing the buildings. Try to remember that the Skill Challenge is about helping Overlook prepare for the coming war, not to facilitate the battle itself. That will be done at a later time. Feel free to use the map of Overlook in the maps section of the site.]

[Sink]
Sink interrupts Boreas’ blathering and adds his own, “Yesssss. We must vanquish these foes’ spirits as well. We must crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentation of their women. Like my Mom did. When she got raped by that demon.”
(Intimidation check)

[DM]
[OOC: Yeah. I thought intimidate was an odd skill to have here but they describe it as being able to look at the map and determining the most intimidating places to set up defenses and such to make Overlook appear better defended that it really is, etc.]
“Great gods, Sink. That is just….” the Elder blanches, “…. devilish.. I mean… wicked…. or, you know… Great idea, I mean.”
[ 2/8 successes. 1/3 failures.]

[DM]
[OOC: OK, must have missed that point. My mom wasn’t raped by demons, but she did have below average intelligence, I guess.]
Staring piercingly at each of his comrades, each in his own turn; Boreas, almost trance like starts to tell the tale of one of his few childhood memories,
“My village growing up was smaller than overlook, but faced the same otherworldly threat, from a cowardly villain, not unlike Sharshan. The invading hordes came over my village like a tidal wave and we fought them. We fought them for days. The blood stained everything: the streets, the buildings, the people. My father’s great axe was so saturated with the dripping blood of our enemies, even his great arms had difficulty swinging it. Those too young to fight pulled the dead out of the way so that the fighting could continue the next day. Some of them died of exhaustion, but we fought on. We fought to protect our homes. We fought to protect our lives. We fought because we had to. Look into my eyes and know now that I will fight with you until we have won and I will never let us lose. Let my lasting endurance be an inspiration. Let it steel you all for the task at hand. We will win, because we MUST win!!

[DM]
[OOC: While endurance is measure of your physical ability to endure extremes, not a measure of your ability to inspire people, I like the effort here so I will go with this.]
Boreas relays to the elders some techniques the Goliath people have used for centuries to endure harsh environments and to stay sharp after countless days awake. With these techniques, the defenders of Overlook can stay on post longer without suffering the effects of being tired.
[ 3/8 successes. 1/3 failure]
[OOC: Keep it up. Help plan and prepare the city for battle. Devise defenses using the skills listed above. The elders have been inspired to fight, that is not in question. How to fend off the attack, is.]

[Samhain]
Sam stares at the map of the city, then speaks up; “Fire isn’t the only thing that works on trolls. Acid is also very effective. Perhaps the local alchemists have stocks of naptha and acid we can use to boobytrap the streets and alleys as well? And remember, trolls won’t be the only monsters in the invading army. I’m quite certain there will be orcs and gnolls, maybe ogres. They may be the least of or challenges, however. The Shadar-kai who work for Sarshan will have shadow magics of their own. We should consult with the city’s clerics and paladins to coordinate some special surprises for those attacks, as well. I would bet Dunedin has some knowledge of such things, eh brother?”
[Insight check: http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3200389/ ]
[Thievery to place traps per Ryan: http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3200420/ ]

[DM]
Samhain points out several areas where fire and acid traps can be set to most effectively heard the enemy and then dispatch them.
[OOC: Success. 4/8 successes. 1/3 failures. Remember, you all have a +2 to skill check roll until the next failure due to Dunedin’s Insight check.
Thievery can be used generate only 2 more successes. (Trap placement, etc.)
Intimidate can be used to generate only 2 more successes. (Places for intimidating blockades, etc.)
History and Religion can be used freely.
Everyone can go ahead and roll another skill each.]

[Khort]
Khort examines the plans that have been made so far, and realizes that the defenses are beginning to shore up and become sound. He also notes that much of the defense of the city relies on its remote location and its spires. He considers how soldiers trained to work in such capacities would react to an invasion, and is struck with an idea.
“One thing your soldiers have is a good defense. But one thing they may lack is good, close quarters offense. Observe. GUARD!” Khort calls over one of the soldiers and hands him a shield. He has the soldier stand in on place. “Do not move. You will not be hurt.”
As the guard shakes, he charges the man and gives him the lightest of shoves, not enough to hurt him, but certainly enough to use Khort’s skill at charging to an impressive display of force.
After the Guard lands, Khort plows a fist into his hands. “They will never expect a strong offense in the midst of a charge down a narrow lane. If we can train a few of the best troops in our army to act like a Minotaur, any offense will soon become a quick retreat, and fear will inspire their every action. I will train some of the best men in how to charge well as quickly as possible, that we might have a spear to use in a mass of bodies.”
Intimidation check: 10
http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3200438/
OOC: Looks like there may not be time, heh.

[DM]
Kort relay’s to the Generals of the army his tactic of training the Dwarves to charge the enemy as a Minotaur would, however, the impact of a charge from the stout Dwarves may not have the same effect as that of a Minotaur.
[OOC: The roll fails and will not be an effective tactic against the enemy.
4/8 successes. 2/3 failure. You do not get the +2 any more due to the failure. Most DC’s are set at 20 for this challenge. Once more failure and the challenge is over.]

[Dunedin]
“More like kids than bulls,” Dunedin chuckles as he considers dwarves attempting to behave as minotaur’s in battle.
“The odds of the pending battle are against us and Overlook. We have a city whose authority have been corrupted or replaced by doppelgangers. We have an invading horde comprised of gnolls, orcs, trolls, Fey Quickling and worse. Black magic will likely be used in their attack.” Dunedin sighs. "I fear for the city.
“Considering the historical record, few victories have been won under such odds. Perhaps we need to try a different tactic, a plan that I call Operation Blazing Saddles,” Dunedin adjusts in his seat smiling. “Elders, it may be wise to begin as quietly as possible an evacuation of Stonehammer. This is likely to be the goal of our enemy’s siege. Their attempt to gain the ancient tome, their focusing of attention and resources on Stone Anvil. Stonehammer is their target. It must be evacuated. And as quickly and quietly as possible.” Dunedin tilts his head up. His attention seems drawn to something. A distant memory? "Ah, yes. The sheriff, is he a near? Forgive me. With Stonehammer secretly emptied of citizenry, we can fortify it with dummies and mannequins to make the district seem populated. A small force can try to draw the enemies force into a trap laid with pitch and pits where we can rain down a fury of acid and fire. We may have a chance if we can determine the field of battle. Otherwise . . . " Dunedin pauses," otherwise all is lost and we have no choice but to set Stonehammer ablaze trapping the enemy and whatever heroes are brave enough to pen the foe in and keep them from escaping.
“We surely cannot confront this enemy directly. The histories tell of too many valiant adventurers foolishly making this attempt only to end up as crows’ food.
“I rode a Blazing Saddle . . . " Dunedin again focuses off into an unseen distance. His speech turning into a hum.
History check

[DM]
[OOC: Great post and great roll, Pat. I’ve give you an additional success for the narrative.
Success: 6/8. Fail: 2/3
You guys are almost there]

[Sink]
Sink digs into his satchel and produces a dog-eared volume of historical insights. He reads aloud, “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”
(History check)

[DM]
With a clear recollection of some of histories more storied siege victories, Sink devises a communication plan similar to the one used in the Siege of Mith Dranor, which will allow commanders to efficiently relay orders to the troops in Overlook.
[OOC: 7/8 successes. 2/3 failures. One more of either and you guys are all done.]

[Gothe]
Gothe leaps to his feet from a forgotten corner.
“Whoa, the behemoth stirs,” laughs Dunedin.
Smoke rising from his nostrils, Gothe turns to the Dunedin and says, “I should be able to.”
“That,” Dunedin says with after a puzzled moment," doesn’t even make sense."
“It should be able to make sense,” says Gothe.
Dunedin turns to the party assembled and shrugs his shoulders.
Gothe leaps to his feet again.
Dunedin questions, “Did you even get off of your feet, my reptilian friend?”
“Does it matter?” Gothe answers.
“Is that a question?” replies Dunedin.
“It should be,” says Gothe.
Dunedin turns to the party assembled and shrugs his shoulders.
Again smoke billows from Gothe’s nostrils. "I have an idea. Together you have set the stage. I can set it better. The plan is this, we goad the enemy into a trap, we limit their avenues, we steer them to a battlefield of our choosing, and we set it with traps and caltrops. And . . . "more smoke comes from the Dragonborne’s giant nose, “we obscure their sight. It is an old rogue’s trick. Only this time instead of picking their pockets, we will be picking their lives. Through smoke we can rain down a storm of arrows and fire bombs. Then those of us unafraid of a little heap can leap on the living and kill and plunder.”
Thievery Check

[DM]
After laying out several areas where traps can be utilized to neutralize the enemy, the plan to defend Overlook is as complete as possible in the short amount of time you have.
Great Elder Morgoff’s shoulders slump. “I fear we’ve done all we can for now,” he says. “We must go and spread word to our soldiers of what is to come, and what they must do. My friends,” he says to you all, “if you are willing, I would have you stay here at Caer Overlook tonight, so that you are ready on a moment’s notice. I can have people show you to guest quarters. I suggest we all get a good night’s sleep; I fear the next days will be tiring indeed.”

View
The Caretaker
The Temple Between - RP Email 1

What was once a bedroom has been transformed into a chamber of horrors. Old blood has matted the carpet into a thin film that crunches beneath your feet. Dull blades and needles protrude from the surface of a desk, where they were apparently stuck for safekeeping. A wooden bed frame leans against the wall at an angle; chained to it, dangling by his chafed and bloody wrists, is what appears to be a dwarf with hair and beard of writhing flame! Despite its touch, the wood of the frame shows no evidence of burning. You suddenly realize, the Caretaker is no Dwarf but instead an Azer. A grand celestial being created as a result of the Giants Enslavement of Dwarves so long ago.
He eyes are fixed forward and he is in a near catatonic state.

[Khort]
Khort steps forward and examines the the bindings.
He tries to rouse the man. “Caretaker. We wish to free you. Are you awake? Can you tell us who put you here, or how to help you escape?”

[Samhain]
I don’t think he’s in any condition to answer us, brother. Let’s get him down from that… thing, first. Here, give him this (hands Kort a heal potion).

[Khort]
“Agreed, friend.” Khort takes the healing potion and, to the best of his ability, helps the bound man to drink it while (presumably) our rogue tries to undo his shackles with Sam.

[Dunedin]
“Be careful, comrades, his beard and hair are fire. We don’t want to harm ourselves while tending to the needs of this tortured one,” says Dunedin. “An Azer as the Caretaker. His race has endured such suffering. He should not have been subjected to any more. Those vile trolls.”

[DM]
You can see that while his hair and beard are made of fire, they do not seem to be burning the bed to which he is chained.
As you speak to him, you can see that he is completely catatonic. He does not even seem to know you are in the room. The potion you feed him does heal his physical ones, but it does not affect his mental ones. Something else will have to be tried to heal those.
The manacles that chain him to the bed are secure and well made. Someone with some skill in such an area will need to attempt to free him from them. [Someone can roll for Gothe if you wish]

[Khort]
“I know very little of the ways to heal a mind, though I do know much of being shackled.” A dark look comes over Khort’s face. “Perhaps we can find his spirit?”
Khort turns to Dunedin. “Do you have any spells, friend Eladrin?”

[DM]
Gothe pulls out his lock picks and deftly opens the manacles. Freed, the Caretaker continues to lay on his bed – catatonic.

[Dunedin]
“It is possible that the hag put him under a spell. Hags. Trolls. Constructs.” Dunedin wonders. He seems distracted as he says this, as if his mind is in the fey.

[Boreas]
Boreas strides over to the bed frame with puzzlement across his face. Studying the wood bed frame, with his knowledge of nature, he struggles to see any significance, or conjure any recollection of this type of wood. He then looks to the caretaker with sadness in his eyes, and places his massive hands on the distraught creature’s head. Closing his eyes and concentrating his healing energy, the others notice some massive shift in energy around the two, like a cold, energetic breeze passed through the room.
[DM]
Dunedin studies the Azer and can tell that he is not affected by any sort of magical spell.

Boreas inspects the bed and sees that it appears to be made of simple wood. As he inspects the Azer, he realizes that the magical flames that constitute his hair and beard gives off no heat. Using techniques taught to him by his tribal Shamans, Boreas ascertains that a Remove Affliction spell could bring the Caretaker’s mind from the tortured cell it currently resides in, as could some more healing techniques coupled with trying to talk him out of it reinforced with Moradins teachings.

[Khort]
Khort reaches into his brain to find studies of Moradin, as recalled from his time stuck in the maze with nothing to do but read.

[Sink]
Sink quietly asks if the Azer has ever read Oprah’s Tome Guild selection “The Secret” as it is an essential read on the power of consciousness.

[DM]
Kort’s words do not seem to ring true for a being do devoted to the teachings of Moradin. Sink’s however, seem catch somewhere in his fragile psyche. The Caretakers eyes seem to move, every so slightly towards the nightstand next to the bed. Sink opens the lone drawn and pulls out and worn and well red copy of “The Secret”. Sink opens the book and begins to read passages to the Azer for the next 15min.
(Kort’s skill check failed. You still need two more successes, one must be with Heal.)

[Dunedin]
Inspired by Kort’s sincerity, Dunedin leans in close to the Caretaker and whispers, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy."
Religion check – http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3178015/
Forgetting that he is not a healer, and perhaps a bit drunk from the words of The Secret, Dunedin continues his mouthing of useless words. He says to the Caretaker in the quietest of voices, “It was a wise man who said, ‘The sick do not ask if the hand that smoothes their pillow is pure, nor the dying care if the lips that touch their brow have known the kiss of sin.’”
Healing check – http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3178017/
Content at having tried his best, Dunedin heads a darkened corner of the room to squat.
(SOMEONE DO SOMETHING SOON BEFORE I ‘roll’ AGAIN)

[DM]
The words of Moradin ring false when spoken by an Eladrin. The Caretaker remains on the brink of insanity and complete mental break down, until, Dunedin is able to dig deep into his past and recall some parables his mother used to heal the mental anguish caused at the hands of Dunedin’s childhood tormentors who incessantly teased the young Wizard for his many feminine traits – peeing while squatting being only one of many.
After 15min of soothing conversation, the fire in the Caretakers eyes being to burn once again.
(One more check. So far, an hour has passed.)

[Dunedin]
Wild, forgotten memories are stoked at the sight of the smoldering fire in the Caretaker’s eyes. Dunedin closes his eyes and mind to his immediate surroundings. He concentrates his thoughts on the bed on which the Caretaker rests.
A voice stirs within Dunedin. Quiet at first. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” He pictures, once more his mother. " — and Moradin will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Moradin, and the Moradinfor the body."
Arcana check – http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3178178/
A lone tear rolls down Dunedin’s eye. What thoughts are these that have awoken in him. An Azer, his mother, and Moradin.

[Samhain]
Sam eyes the Caretaker, speaking hesitantly; “You are an Azer. You are strong, fierce like the fire reflected on your visage! No matter what has happened here, you can overcome it.”
((Diplomacy, which I’m sure is inadequate: http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3178205/ ))

[DM]
Dunedin begins to tell tales of his mother, her amber hair and her gentle touch. Samhain jumps in and recounts tales of the Azure’s heritage but it is no use.
It is as if Dunedin is in a faraway place As he continues talking quietly to the Caretaker. The stories begin to take a turn. The heroes look on in shock as Dunedin waxes on about his mother and his upbringing in a way that can only be described as erotic.
The Azer begins to stir. Slowly at first his head begins to move side to side. He attempts to mouth words but his throat is too dry and his mouth filled with blood. “No…… no….” he rasps. His head rolls from one side to the other as he gains strength: “Please….. no more. I can’t take….. hearing these tales any longer…. for I fear I will vomit.”

[Dunedin]
Pulled from his innermost thoughts, Dunedin turns to Sam. “The Azer is strong. Oh, would that I could be as strong.” He moves back to the darkened corner and stands like a strong Eladrin.

[DM]
The Azer blinks once, and when he looks at you again, his eyes are clear—or rather, they appear to burn with an inner fire that they lacked earlier. He speaks in heavily accented Common. “You have my thanks, strangers. You should not be here, but as you are—and as I needed you—I will take this to be Moradin’s will. I know not who these creatures were, who invaded my home and dealt so cruelly with me, but I know their intentions! I heard them plan! They seek to attack the city of Overlook, from both without and—through my temple—within! Even though the latter has been thwarted, the former might yet lie ahead; Overlook, and indeed Elsir Vale, might suffer greatly. But tell me, who are these villains? Do you know? Tell me all that has happened, please.”

[Khort]
Khort describes their encounter with the trolls and the construct, and their varying adventures exploring the caves and fighting their way to the Azer.
“You say that the temple entrance to Overlook has been thwarted… but from where will the external threat come?”

[DM]
“I can only guess that the external threat will come from the area around Overlook. I’ve heard them discuss the use of mercenaries from some other realm that have been slowly ferried to this plane. They wait in the wilderness surrounding Overlook for their orders to attack.”
He slowly shakes his head sadly
“I knew that the tall one wanted me to turn over stewardship of the temple to him,” he says. “I fear that, in my pain, I might indeed have granted him control over some of the constructs, but I denied him any more than that. I . . . I fear that when you awoke me from my stupor, the portals were instantly unbarred. He has likely fled already. But at least I can swiftly return you to Overlook the same way.”
“I realize time is short,” he tells you, “and that you must hurry back to warn the people of Overlook. Nevertheless, I must ask you . . . can you spare an hour, and perhaps a bit of your hard-won gains, to aid me with one final task? After the blood that was shed here, I must perform a ritual to re-consecrate the temple to Moradin. I cannot do it alone, and if you do not aid me, I will have to walk several miles through the mountains to find assistance at Bordrin’s Watch. Perhaps this sounds to you like the ramblings of an old fool, but I believe fully that Moradin will smile upon us for doing so.”
He looks to the Incunabulum Primeval Dunedin caries on his back. “I see you recovered that ancient tomb. I thank you; it is a very rare and important book.”

[Khort]
Khort bows. “We would love to help you with your ritual, but it is, I would suppose, highly dependent on how close the attack is. Will they have made their move by the time we finish, or do we have some time?”

[DM]
“I cannot say how much time until the attack, for I do not know”

[Samhain]
“Enough time is left for us to help the Caretaker, Khort, if he can port us to Overlook as he says,” Sam pipes in. “Caretaker, did you perhaps hear anything of who these creatures worked for? I suspect the forces in the vale are those of Sarshan, a Shadar-kai mercenary captain of no small renown. Are there any names you can give us, who may be organizing all these dark forces? As for your ritual, what would you have us do?”

[DM]
“I believe they called the hooded figure General Zithiruun but I am afraid I hear no other names than that, friend.” the Caretaker says.
“The ritual requires your assistance and a quantity of precious metals. Gold and Platinum, if I recall” he says, his hair and beard blazing with renewed vigor. He walks across the room to a small bookshelf and reaches behind it, pulling out a dusty and worn book. “I’d have to walk all the way to Bordin’s Watch to get the materials and help I need if it weren’t for your help.”
Flipping through the pages, he stops. “Ahh, here it is. A ritual to once again consecrate this area and strengthen its ties to Moradin. Looks like it will require 500pg worth of precious metals. Do ye happen to have such a quantity?”

[Khort]
“I would advise we help this man. Do we agree?”

[Dunedin]
“Caretaker, sir,” says Dunedin, “I will do anything that I can to help you with this ritual. I do suggest that as few of us as need to remain do so while the others venture on to defend Overlook. I will make arrangements to join the party after we have completed the ritual.”
“Sir,” Dunedin continues, “I fear I must interrupt as something is weighing on me. It is the Incunabulum Primeval. We were asked by High Priest Durkik Forgeheart of Overlook to seek out the Incunabulum Primeval. What is the nature of this tome? Can we trust handing it over to even the High Priest?”

[Samhain]
Sam catches himself rubbing the first two fingertips of his left hand with that thumb as he thinks, swirling sparks and drops of acid forming and dissipating at the motion, an unconscious habit he seems to have developed since his most recent near-death. Shaking his hand as if it were numb, he snaps out of his reverie and says, “Our androgynous friend may be correct, as usual, and about both points. If this tome is so highly desired by our enemies, this General, then perhaps there is a safer place for it than even Durkik’s temple. After all, even he fell under the influences the priests of Overlook recently suffered. I’ve no wish to offend Moradin if this book is a sacred text of your religion, but mayhap my companions and I should squirrel it away somewhere only we know of. We should, of course, leave clues for you should we fall in the coming war. A necessary risk, I think.”
“Now, then, how many of us need to stay to assist? I believe we may have…” Sam does a quick tally in his head… “<ahem>, procured the necessary, er, quantity of components during our cleansing of this temple. That is, if simple gold coins will suffice?”

[DM]
“While I would love to send some of you back to Overlook, I’ll require all of you to help me with the ritual. No knowledge of rituals is required, just the ability to follow instructions.”
“With regard to the Incunabulum Primeval, Durkik’s hands are the only hands I would entrust the tome to. It makes me uneasy knowing you have got the book, for it is the most ancient and coveted tome on Moradin. It is the books of highest power to followers of Moradin and in the hands of Durkik is it capable of great things. I know not why the Fey sought the book but without a heart devoted to Moradin they would have little use for the book.”

[Samhain]
“Very well, we shall deliver the Incunabulum to Durkik, then. Now, what do you need us to do to re-consecrate the temple?”

[DM]
With the scroll in hand, the Caretaker leads you all out to the central room with the large area of circular glass. He begins to scrawl out a series of intricate runes using the precious metals on the glass and directs each of you to stand at different places on the glass surface. He then stands atop the higher, central platform and begins to chant in a soft voice. As he chants, his voice begins to build until he is nearly yelling the last few verses – then the stops. For just an instant, as the last echoes of the rite fade away, the entire room grows ever so slightly warmer, as though heated from within by the fires of a small forge. The faint chime of hammers on steel reverberates from all around you, and then once more there is silence. The Caretaker collapses to one knee in exhaustion before standing tall once again. “There, the rite is complete.” he says proudly.
He quickly takes you all back to the entrance camber where you first entered Mountainroot. “The portal are once again active. “Thank you all, and may Moradin’s favor look down on you and Overlook, for I fear you will need it.”
You step through the portal and find yourselves back in the Stone Anvil. You arrive to find a welcoming committee of dwarven soldiers awaiting your return. “The Council of Elders needs to speak with you immediately,” the squad’s commander tells the Heroes. “Please come with me.”
Through the streets of Overlook and the gates of the mighty Caer Overlook, the soldiers escort you, until finally you have reached the imposing doors of the High Hall. Standing on the dais in the center of the chamber are three of the Council’s five members, as well as several more soldiers and High Priest Durkik Forgeheart. Upon seeing you, Great Elder Morgoff Stonefirst waves at you, not to speak to them from below, but to join them upon the dais!
Once on the dais, he says: “I was hoping to wait until all our members were present,” he tells you without preamble, “but we’ve still not heard from Elders Itrika Mountainhome or Olman Sledgemore— they are, presumably, occupied with other duties and our messengers haven’t reached them to tell them of this emergency conclave—and we’ve no more time to wait.
High Ancestor Durkik, as well as several other citizens, such as Priestess Lavinya, have told us a bit of what’s been happening our city. But I’m given to understand that you can tell us far more. Please, what’s going on? Is Overlook in danger?”

[Khort]
Khort scowls. “You must rally your best troops and prepare for an imminent invasion from another plane of existence. Sarshan, it would seem, has succeeded on one front in preparing to decimate Overlook.”

[DM]
“Any attack from another plane? No such portals exist in Overlook. And if one did, it surely would not be big enough to marshal an entire army through it.” Elder Stonefist says.
“While I know of your efforts to aid in the attack on Bordin’s watch, I am afraid that the Council has not been kept entirely up to speed on all that you have learned. Please, summarize for me the nature of this threat.”

[Samhain]
Sam steps up, his expression clearly showing he isn’t in the mood for pomp and deference, despite the regard he holds for the Elders. "You misunderstand, Elder. Sarshan is not moving his forces from the Shadowfell directly into Overlook. Rather, he has been marshaling them in the wilderness surrounding the city, waiting for his orders to strike. Someone has been orchestrating the downfall of Overlook, using several methods and tactics to weaken our defenses and ensure their success.
“First, it was the antagonization of the orcs, with weapons and promises of easy victory. It was then we learned of Sarshan and his experiments in breeding creatures spawned of Chaos. I am certain they will be back, and probably with larger friends. Trolls. Ogres perhaps. Next, a naga Queen set up shop in a lost dwarven mine, deep in the desert, a mine with open rifts to the Plane Below, imbuing the ore with the very essence of Chaos. Then gnolls ran rampant through the Vale, kidnapping both commoners and town leaders to enhance the anarchy, using them for both food and fuel to open portals to various planes, primarily Chaos of course, but I think they may also have been attempting to summon their own Demon God from the Abyss. Gnolls deserve far more credit than we give them for, in both ingenuity and cunning. Coupled with the mental assault, possession if you will, of the priests of the city recently, and the desecration of the Temple of Moradin we just cleansed, the evidence is very, VERY clear…
“There is a concerted effort to obtain resources for weapons, to harness the forces of Chaos, to entice the more savage races into channeling their natural tendencies into attacking Overlook… all for the purpose of sowing Chaos, in order to seize Chaos itself. Tell me, Elder, what do you know of the legend of The Keeper of Chaos? No? Then perhaps you should all pay very close attention to what we are telling you. Overlook and the Vale MUST mobilize for war, now! You may think you are ready, but you are not. Do you truly believe that all the recent events in Overlook and the Vale are mere coincidence? Tell us, does the name General Zithiruun mean anything to you?”

[Boreas]
Boreas moves behind his suddenly outspoken little friend, in a menacing posture, sending the clear message that anything Sam says is guaranteed by his massive frame. Under his breath, and to himself he mutters, “Stoopid elder, save his hide then he asks US for money…..”

View
Evil Within Mountainroot

Standing over the charred remains of Samhain and Gothe, the heroes were preparing to give their companions their last rites when Gothe shifted. With a hiss and a groan, he slowly began to rise. His innate resistance to fire left him teetering on the brink of death but alive none the less. The heroes quickly moved in to help their wounded friend. Applying bandages and giving him healing potions. As Sink turned to retrieve another potion, he was stunned to witness the wound that covered Samhain’s body begin to slowly close as a silvery light burned from within him. Slowly, he opened his eyes and sat blinking in awe at his companions who were just as shocked.
The group bandaged themselves and set off again to explore the Mountainroot Temple. They returned to the kitchen area once again and this time discovered a secret door they had previously missed. Opening it, they found themselves in what appeared to be a Vault of sorts. The large room was ringed by smaller raised rooms whose openings were guarded by massive iron gates that rolled into the ceiling, however, currently, they were open. The heroes were no alone in this room – a pair of Quickling Runners stopped picking through the coins strewn about the floor and turned to the party as they entered the room. With a hiss, they attacked. The battle was soon joined by a pair of Harpies who were hidden in the smaller rooms that ringed the larger room. They skirted the battle and sang their seductive songs – pulling the heroes out of battle and onto trapped floor tiles where daggers sprang forth and shredded their feet and legs. Despite the heavy damage the party was taking at the hand of the traps, the heroes tore into the enemy and forced the remaining Quickling to surrender. In exchange for his life, the Quickling told the heroes that the fey were sent “to this foul place” by someone they call Cachlain, the Stone-Skinned King. Dunedin recognized that Cachlain is an infamous fomorian king of the Feywild. He sent these fey in search of a valuable prize, which they refer to as “the parchment voice you call Incunabulum Primeval.” They know that it is a tome of great power and that Cachlain has sought it for some time. Only recently, however, have they learned that its retrieval has become urgent, because the court’s divinations suggested that someone else was about to get their hands on it. The fey admit that Cachlain’s new counselor—someone named Sovacles, whom they have never met—tried to talk him out of sending them, but that the king was too desperate to get the book. The fey admit that their leader, whom they call “Our Lady of the Deathly Song,” already has the tome. Alas, they cannot leave because “the Others”—a band of humanoids consisting mostly of trolls—appeared and took the Caretaker prisoner, thus cutting off all possible exit. When pressed on who these ‘others’ are he says: “They are organized and serve some higher master, but we know not who. Perhaps they are the reason Cachlain felt we must retrieve the parchment voice so swiftly.” When asked what they plan to do now he responds with: “Now? We seek only to escape the temple. A portal to the Feywild stands at the base of the mountains, where the waters flow from above to reach the plains. We would return home—with the Incunabulum if possible, but at least with our lives.” Not wanting the fey to return to his masters and launch an attack on them, the heroes decided it best to slay the Quickling.
The heroes disabled the traps and searched the room, finding some potent magical items that were overlooked when the Dwarves fled the temple. They also found another door that led downward and deeper into the temple. Following it, they came upon what appeared to be what was once the barracks or living quarters for the inhabitants of the temple. They spread out and began to search the area when two Hammerfist Guardians attacked. The battle was swift as the heroes easily took care of the automatons that guarded this room. They finished their search and discovered a finely crafted weapon in the adjoining forge room.
Finding no other exits, the group headed back up to the main room where their friends nearly died and decided to explore the cavernous area created by the earthquake. Gothe dropped down the cavern floor and crept forward. He came to what appeared to be a ruined temple area that was filled with the remaining fey force. Two large Cyclops mingled around the trench Gothe was hiding in, while the hag and some other minions were at the opposite end of the room. Gothe spied a door at the end of the room near the hag and reported his findings to the rest of the group. They ascertained that the door must connect to the other portion of the collapsed area and decided it would be best to attach from the door as it would place them closer to the hag.
They entered the other portion of the cavern and found a sentry guarding the area near the door. Sink pulled his Githyanki Silver Sword and rushed in to attack. The attack his and transported the enemy to a void in the Astral Sea. The rest of the party rushed in and when the sentry returned from his multi-planar jaunt, he was immediately set upon and killed. The group moved to the door and charged in – surprising the enemy.
Gothe acted first again and critically hit the hag with Blinding Barrage and bloodied and blinded the Hag. Boreas and Sink locked down the bladeslinger and Dunedin threw a stinking cloud over the Cyclops and ruffian – killing the Cyclops. On the next round, Gothe continued his assault on the Hag for more sneak attack damage and killed her. The ruffian burst out of the stinking cloud and landed a devastating attack on Dunedin that blasted him back into the wall and left him in a pile on the floor. Boreas and Sink finished off the bladeslinger, Gothe finished off the ruffian and the stinking cloud killed the Cyclops. Other than the devastating attack on Dunedin, the heroes were relatively unscathed. They searched the room and found some treasure as well as a massive book – The Incunabulum Primeval. With the book in hand, the heroes set off to find who was responsible for invading the temple and torturing the Caretaker in an effort to learn his secrets.
The last place to search was the massive set of double doors that stood at the north end of the large oval room where they battled the trolls and fey creatures at the same time. With a last check of their gear, they opened the doors and briefly caught a glimpse a rust colored Dragonborn in heavy armor conversing with a hooded figure clad in an odd set of armor comprised of interlocking metal braces secured with straps of leather – this was the man they were looking for. Just as quickly as they say the figure, though, he was gone. Having finished his conversation with the Dragonborn, both men turned and exited from view before the door could even finish opening.
The group now stood at one end of a long hallway which had two sets of stairs leading up to a platform 40ft above the ground they now stood on. They could see that the room opened up greatly once on that platform but what was up there, was unknown. Gothe, Sam and Dunedin snuck forward to get a better view and were almost to the platform when Sam stumbled on his cloak. They heard the fall of heavy boots on stone moments before the face of a surprised dragonborn appeared at the top of the landing. – the battle was on. Kort, Boreas, and Sink charged the landing as Gothe jumped forward and sunk his sword deep into the Dragonborn. In an epic battle that saw the heroes face off against three trolls, two dragonborn, a massive construct and 6 human thugs, the hardened adventurers fought bravely and valiantly. In less than 5 minutes, the battle was won and our heroes were victorious.
After bandaging their battle wounds, the party set off searching the massive room for the whereabouts of the Caretaker. It was not long before they found him in a room slick with his own gore, chained to a bed.

Proceed to the RP Forum for dealing with the Caretaker

View
The Heart of the Conspiracy

After questioning the recently deceased Priestess Haelyn, the party discovered that she was killed by Grovald after she confronted her fellow priests about their recent change in personalities. The priests had laughed her off and soon after, she was attacked and killed by Grovald. The heroes performed a proper burial on Haelyn and returned to the Mountain’s Hearth for some much needed rest.
Before they left the shrine of Erathis, Dunedin performed his Speak With Dead ritual on Grovald with the hopes of learning more about the conspiracy that has taken root in Overlook. With the ritual complete, the party was able to persuade Grovald to answer just a few of their questions. They learned that Grovald is ultimately working for a mysterious humanoid named General Zithiruun, who is clad in strange armor comprised of iron joints and leather straps. Recently, however, Grovald has been taking his orders from High Priest Durkik. They also learned that Durkik spends his days locked away in the Stone Anvil, however, at night he often disappears into the city. The heroes made plans to stake out the Stone Anvil the next night and see if they trail and question Durkik.
The next morning, as they made their way through the city in preparation for the nights activities, the caught a brief glimpse of movement from nearby alley just before the shadows erupted in violence. Ambushers sprang from every alley and rooftop and tore into the heroes. The battle was fierce but relatively quick as Dunedin and Samhain made short work of the rooftop attackers with powerful spells, while Boreas, Kort and Sink took care of the remaining attackers. Unfortunately, just as one of the attackers was about to surrender, Boreas tore him in two, leaving no one left to question – no one, except corpses. As with the night before, Dunedin prepared the expensive ritual that would allow him to speak with the dead. When the ritual was finished, they questioned the doppelganger assassin that was part of the ambush and learned that they had been hired by Dwarf who was a member of the city guard! The man described to the party was none other than Captain Aerun! It would appear that all of the cities religious and political leaders have been corrupted or worse! The heroes did not know who they could trust.
With preparations made, the group set of at nightfall for the Stone Anvil. Gothe and Samhain secreted themselves in the shadows outside the Stone Anvil while the rest of the party waited in an alley a few blocks away – the heroes waited. Late into the evening, they finally caught sight of their target. Durkik walked down the steps of the Stone Anvil and into the cool night air. He walked only a block or two before he turned into an alley. Only moments later, a different, taller Dwarf exited the alley. While the Dwarf was physically different, his clothing and gait were identical. Had the group not been watching so closely, they surely would have been fooled by this ruse.
Using all of their skills, the heroes did their best to tail the Dwarf through the twisting streets of Overlook without being seen. As they neared the outskirts of the Forgeworks District, their pray caught sight of them and was able to lose them in the maze of warehouses and alley ways. Knowing the general location where they lost the Dwarf, the heroes spread out and after several hours of investigation, were able to ascertain which warehouse the Dwarf had entered. It was a nondescript warehouse with a large rolling door on one side and rickety staircase that head up to a second story door.
Samhain and Dunedin followed Gothe up the stairs to the second story door and after making sure it was clear of traps, opened the door. Inside they saw a small office with a single desk and chair. Another door led out of this room into the warehouse. Sam carefully crept into the room only to have the door slam shut behind him. Spinning on his heels, Sam saw Captain Aerun standing behind the door wielding a massive long sword. His eyes flared with malevolence and Samhain quickly found himself unable to move – as if a massive, invisible hand where holding him in place. Slashing with his sword, Aerun inflicted a serious wound on Sam. Gothe and the others rushed in to the room and the battle spilled out in to the warehouse where numerous assassin and thugs waited in ambush. The battle was a harrowing affair, spanning catwalks and the piles of crates that littered the warehouse. In the end, the heroes suffered terrible wounds but won the day. Some of the thugs, seeing their comrades be brutally cut down by the heroes blades, surrendered and offered to give tell them all that they know in exchange for their lives. The heroes agree (after a whole lot of arguing) and discovered that a doppelganger has taken the place of the real High Priest Durkik who is alive and being held captive in a cell under the warehouse. He tells the heroes he is working for someone called General Zithiruun. Like Grovald, he hasn’t seen Zithiruun’s face, but recognizes him by his hooded cloak and his strange leather-and-steel harness. He knows that Zithiruun wants them to hold the Stone Anvil, and to question Durkik about the security and magic of another temple, called “Mountainroot.” The false Durkik assigned most of the priests of Moradin to rebuilding the old temple as a means of keeping them occupied and out of the Stone Anvil. He does not know why Zithiruun is interested in this “Mountainroot Temple.” He knows only that Zithiruun has grown more and more frustrated with Durkik’s failure to answer their questions; a few days ago, he stormed off insisting that he was going to “find out for himself,” though he ordered them to keep trying in his absence, and record what they learned. The heroes let the thug flee with his life before making their way to the secret entrance that led to the cell where Durkik was being held.

After descending a ladder, the heroes found themselves in a dark, dingy hallway with a single steel door at the end. The door contains a small window, through which, the party can make out a very badly battered Dwarf chained to the opposite wall of a small cell. A dwarf, his flesh bruised and beaten, his hair and beard matted with blood, stood chained to the far wall of a stench-ridden, claustrophobic cell. It took the heroes a moment to recognize him as none other than High Priest Durkik Forgeheart!
Slowly, as though even so minor a move pained him, he looked up to meet their gaze through the bars, his eyes widened slightly as he recognized them. “Be careful,” he rasped in a hoarse voice. “The door’s trapped.” He gestured with a finger, the chain clinking, to indicate a series of tubes that protrude from the walls of the cell, pointed in his direction. “And not to kill you, either,” he added impassively. “They don’t want me escaping.”

The heroes surveyed the situation and set about disabling the trap that was intended to kill Durkik. While Boreas wrenched some of the tubes from the wall, Dunedin teleported into the room and used his own body to protect Durkik in the event the trap was spring. In the end, they were able to free the High Priest without setting off the trap.

Durkik limped slowly from the cell – clearly in a great deal of pain. “Thank you,” he said simply. “You’re the answer to every prayer I’ve offered Moradin. But I fear, as grateful as I am to be out and alive, that I’ve little good news for you.”

He told the heroes that a humanoid that goes by the moniker General Zithiruun has taken over the Stone Anvil and has possessed Aerun and some the priests of Overlook in some sort of dark ritual. He explains that he was not exposed to this ritual because Zithiruun needs information from him about the magical security of the Mountainroot Temple. When asked about the Mountainroot Temple he tells them the following tale:

A subterranean structure built by the same order that would later go on to construct the Monastery of the Sundered Chain, the Mountainroot Temple stands deep beneath the Stonehome Mountains. Built when the dwarves were still celebrating their freedom from the giants, it was not a dwarven structure, but a temple built for anyone who wanted to pay tribute to Moradin, of any race. It held great reliquaries of holy icons, enormous cathedrals where hundreds could worship at once, and even a doorway to the Astral Plane whence angels and exarchs of Moradin would appear to discourse with the god’s most favored priests and champions. To facilitate a grand community of Moradin worshipers, the Mountainroot Temple had, in addition to its astral doors and its main entryway into the mountains, four mystical doorways constructed. Each linked to another temple of Moradin elsewhere in the world, so the faithful could come and go with ease.

And for decades, even centuries, the temple thrived. Slowly, however, relations between Moradin’s faithful grew strained. Priests assigned to other, “lesser” temples grew envious of those at Mountainroot. Many of the dwarf faithful grew haughty, considering themselves Moradin’s “true”
children, and sought to oust all others, or at least put them in lesser places, denying them access to the temple’s wonders.

Was it Moradin’s wrath? A curse brought upon them by the giants they’d so long ago escaped? Or simply a natural catastrophe without greater meaning? None can say. Whatever the case, some centuries ago, the mountain was struck by an earthquake. Portions of the inner tunnels collapsed, damaging several chambers of the Mountainroot Temple, destroying others entirely. Panicked, the priests and the faithful grabbed up their treasures and holy icons—at least most of them—and fled using the surviving magical portals.

Once they’d settled elsewhere, the bulk of Moradin’s priests decided that this way was better. By scattering from the temple, they would allow the dwarves to build their own shrines, without feeling constrained by the other races, and the jealousy that marred the priesthood would fade. Although they mourned the loss of the great cathedral, and those few treasures they’d been unable to save, they declared the quake to have been Moradin’s will and left the temple abandoned. In time, most faithful, even most priests save those most thoroughly learned in their history, forgot it had ever been.

Most, but not all. After a few decades, a small group of Moradin worshipers—mostly dwarves, but with members of other races as well—returned to the Mountainroot Temple. They cleaned it up as best they could and vowed to maintain it until it should someday become important once again. The most powerful of their number took on the title of Caretaker and lived within the temple, in a small structure built inside the larger reliquary. The Caretaker carefully attuned himself to the temple’s surviving magic, allowing him to control the constructs and divine defenses and traps that protected the structure from outside invasion.

“As you’ve doubtless guessed,” he says to you, his voice still weak, “the Stone Anvil contains one of those portals to the Mountainroot Temple. I don’t know why this General Zithiruun wants the temple, but it’s clearly what he’s after.

“It’s funny, he’s had me tortured for days to make me describe the Mountainroot’s mystical defenses, but the truth is, I don’t know much about them. I know about the temple only because, as High Priest, I was told of it by my predecessor. I can tell you that the defenses are psychically linked to the Caretaker, allowing him to control them, but beyond that, I know little. But even had I told them that much, I doubt they’d have believed me.” Durkik coughed twice before continuing.

“I don’t know why he wants the temple,” he repeats, “but I know it cannot be good for us. I know not who else in this city might have been compromised—who can be trusted. That leaves only you.”

“The entrance from the Stone Anvil is carefully hidden within an old sepulcher. The chamber is hidden behind a secret door; I can escort you to it, but no farther. What I cannot do is tell you how to access the portal, for I don’t know, and I am oathbound never to enter the sepulcher. But my hope is that, once you find it, you can figure out how to use it.”

“I must ask you one thing more,” he adds swiftly. “When the Mountainroot Temple was abandoned, the priesthood took most of our ancient religious relics with them. Most, but not all. Somewhere within the temple lies a tome entitled, when translated into Common, the Incunabulum Primeval. It is a book of great power for those who know how to use it. If you can find it and return it to us, I can promise you a reward of no less than 3,600 gp from the temple treasury, as well as legal right to any other treasure you find in, and can carry out of, the Mountainroot.” Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the heroes and Durkik set off immediately for the Stone Anvil.

Durkik led the heroes through a twisting series of hallways and staircases that led deep into the Stone Anvil. Eventually, they found themselves in a dusty room with bookshelves lining the walls. Durkik approached one of the shelves and reached behind some of the books and scrolls. After fumbling around for a moment, a loud click could be heard followed by the sound of stone grating on stone as a secret door opened. “This is it,” he told them. “The sepulcher. I cannot go any further.” The heroes checked their equipment before entering into the vast chamber before them.

The sepulcher lit up as they walked down its central walkway towards the far wall which was covered in an ornate silver filigree depicting Moradin working at an anvil. Behind the filigree they could make out the outline of a door. As they approached the filigree the image suddenly bended is the face of Moradin turned toward the heroes and spoke in a voice of rending metal.

“Who would step through the portal to the heart of Moradin’s worship must first prove he understands Moradin in his own heart.”
“Think you carefully on Moradin’s precepts, his teachings, his actions, and his favored disciples. Then speak unto me a parable, a tale of Moradin, not that you have learned from his texts, but that you have created yourself. Let it show your understanding of his words and his ways, and you may pass.”

Using their vast knowledge of religion, history and lore, the heroes were able to create a fantastic tale of sacrifice and growth in the face of adversity. Satisfied with the parable told to him, the filigree opened itself and allowed the heroes access to the door beyond it.

Opening the door and stepping through the portal, the heroes felt no magic – no tingling or shimmering. One moment they are in the sepulcher and the next they are standing in a great stone walled chamber. Numerous doorways—many of which are contained within deep stone arches, almost like artificial caves—provide egress. A platform with multiple stairs stands near the chamber’s center, presumably for a ceremonial purpose long since forgotten. The eastern portion of the room appears to have been largely damaged in an ancient cave-in, marring one of two great reliefs that adorn the far wall.
Perched on one of the archways and atop the undamaged relief, a pair of foul females with ragged hair and the claws and wings of vultures turn piercing eyes in your direction, letting loose with a terrible, predatory cry. Only a few yards from you, what appears to be a scruffy, abnormally short dwarf peers at you between slitted lids. The beasts attacked!

The battle was not a difficult one as the seasoned heroes leapt from the archway they stood in and tore into their foes. Suffering little more than a few scratches, they finished the fight and plotted their next move. Exiting the room was a small hallway that ended in a single door and a large set of double doors set into the center of the wall opposite the archways. Gothe explored the hallway and found that the room beyond the double door was a small kitchen like area with two other exits from it. Not sure what else was beyond those doors, they decided to try the large double doors.

The double doors led to a short hallway that ended in another set of double doors. They opened the final set of doors and found themselves in a massive room. Nearly 100ft across and 80ft tall, this oval shaped room boasted three levels that were connected by ramps and stairs. The heroes found themselves on the lowest of the three levels. They were also not alone in this room. Perched on the rubble of the collapsed eastern part of this room where vile, insectoid-featured humanoids. Several of the beastial looking dwarves from the previous battle sulked in the shadows while twisted gray Halfling like creatures hid in the many shadows of the room. At once, the battle was on.

Unlike the previous battle, this one was a terrible affair. The Dwarves hammered away at the heroes while the halflings sprang in and out of battle, inflicting massive damage before skirting away from danger. All the while, the insectoids peppered the combatants with barrages of spikes fired from blowguns.

The battle had raged on for only a few moments when a great BOOM rattled the pair of double doors set into the north wall of the chamber. The doors were blasted off of their hinges as a trio of trolls, with a fire drake pet, charged into the room. The heroes dread was slightly lifted when the trolls tore into the fey creatures they were currently fighting. The fey fought back and the heroes quickly found themselves in a three way battle for their lives.

Their luck was short lived, however. Badly damaged by the initial attack, the fey quickly fell and the heavily wounded heroes found themselves facing the fresh trolls on their own. Things went from bad to worse when a blast from the fire drake let loose with an inferno that scorched the skin from Samhain and Gothe – both fell to the floor dead. With renewed intensity, the remaining heroes tore into their foes and eventually won the day but they had suffered a great loss in the process. Bloodied, the heroes stood in this vast cathedral looking over the torn and charred remains of their close friends.

View
A Call to Area Code Raven Queen
The Temple Between - RP Email 2

After removing Haelyn’s body from the shallow grave she was so callously buried in, the party carries her body to her cottage and lays her on her bed.
Dunedin pulls components from his pack and opens his ritual books. With precision movements he scrawls out runes around the bed and burns small piles of exotic incenses. After several long minutes, he stops.
“There, it is done.” He says. “What should we ask her?”

[Dunedin]
Dunedin, seeing Haelyn’s lifeless body, initially turns his head so as not to lay eyes on the dead body of a good soul. In doing so, he scans his battle-soaked comrades. He turns again to Haelyn’s corpse and kneels down next to it. He reaches out and gently takes the hand of Haelyn in his.
Quietly, Dunedin turns back and addresses the party. “Things have changed since my passing,” he says, his voice trembling. “I can bring voice to the priestess’s remains so that we can question her. However, the questions we may ask are limited.”
The party huddles near Dunedin. Gothe leaps across a doppelganger’s corpse to get nearer. Possible questions are solicited. If one was passing by, he might doubt the wisdom of the party upon hearing suggestions such as, “What’s in the box?” and “What is your favorite color” and “Who is Kaiser Soze?”
Finally, Dunedin bends down next to Haelyn’s lifeless body and begins the ritual Speak with Dead. "Haelyn, you now walk with the Raven Queen. We mean no disrespect by disturbing your remains. Forgive us for this trespass.
“Lavinya, a priestess at the temple of Erathis, sent my comrades and I to find you. She was concerned by your disappearance. She tried to discover on her own what happened to you, and then she went to the other priests and priestess of the city for help. None of them expressed interest in your vanishing. Haelyn, how is it that you were taken from the shrine of Erathis in Tradestown?”

[Samhain]
After some (not so) rapid discussion amongst the party, Sam poses the first question for Haelyn: “what has been happening to the priests in Overlook?”

[DM]
“I do not know” you hear her spirit reply. “I noticed a chance in their personalities recently but they laughed me off when I confronted them about it. Looking back, I should probably not have let on that I suspected something was amiss but I’ve always been a trusting sort.”
She awaits your next question

[Khort]
Khort nods. “The priests of Overlook seem defensive and compelled. Much effort is going into building temples and there are armed guards running around with priests. The captain of the guard seemed… off somehow. Do you have any idea why they were changed? Did anyone avoid laughing you off?”

[DM]
“All of those I approached, laughed me off” Haelyn’s spirit continues. “As for what has befallen them, I have no idea. It’s as if they are not themselves.”
Haelyn’s spirit begins to fade. “Before I go, thank Lavania for me, will you? She did well in contacting you.” She smiles before fading away.

[Dunedin]
“We will do as Haelyn asks and thank Lavania for her,” says Dunedin. "We must see that she receives a burial fitting of a caretaker of Erathis. However, before we do that, we must clear the streets of this mayhem.
“It may be possible that no one noticed the skirmish. If that is the case, we may be able to expose these shape shifters before the townsfolk and end their charade.”

View
Strange Days
Something is amiss in Overlook

After taking a much needed rest atop the steps of Fortress Graystone, the party began the long journey back to Overlook. On the way, however, they first stopped at Brindol to rest, resupply and to resurrect their fallen ally, Dunedin.

While the ritual to bring Dunedin back from the Raven Queens grasp was being performed, the party enjoyed a night of celebration as Eoffram Troyas’ guests. When they awoke to the smell of hot breakdast at noon the next day, they found Dunedin sitting at the breakfast table awaiting them. To their surprise, they received word that Amyria had left Brindol for Overlook at dawn. In her note, she thanked the group for escorting her to Brindol but could not wait to continue to Overlook. She had caught a ride on a caravan to Overlook and hoped the see them there.
After a large breakfast the party resupplied before heading out on the road once again for Overlook. Other than the unusually large number of families packing up and moving out of the Vale, the 8 day journey to Overlook was uneventful. Perhaps the hard work of the Heroes was paying off?

As Overlook slowly came into view, it was clear that all was not as they have left. The walls around Overlook were buzzing with activity as defenses where strengthened – Overlook was preparing for war.

After passing through the main gates, Dunedin broke off from the party to seek out some Ritual components. Sink, Boreas, Sam and Gothe made their way to their de facto base; The Mountain Hearth in. Kort, set out to the Nine Bells district in search of Amyria.

Kort entered the Nine Bells district and immediately noticed that the old temple to Moradin located there was a virtual ant hill of activity. Scaffolding covered much of the exterior of the Temple as hundreds of Dwarves worked stone and wood with their hammers. Kort asked one of the workers what was going on and he said that High Ancestor Durkik had ordered the old temple to reconstructed. Making his way through the destitute streets of Nine Bells, Kort eventually came to the Temple of Bahamut where he suspected Amyria to be. He was right. Kneeling at the alter was Amyria. She was deep in prayer and did not respond to any of Kort’s attempted to speak to her. He left a note letting her know they were in town and where she could find them.

Kort then made his way to the Stone Anvil where High Ancestor Durkik, the head of Moradin Clergy in Overlook, resided. Despite having been there before Kort found the massive stone temple to be no less awe inspiring than the first time he laid eyes on it. Ascending the stairs, Kort made his way into the temple where a service was being held for a few hundred Dwarves. Nothing looked out of place at the temple other than the fact that the temple looked as if it has not been cleaned for a while. The floors were not swept, braziers had been left to burn out and spider webs clung to the corners – apparently the priests were too busy with the reconstruction of the old temple to keep up with the chores at this one. Kort moved deeper into the temple, seeking out Durkik when Durkik found Kort. From around the next corner in the hallway came Durkik, flanked by several guards.
“You are not welcome in this Dwarven house of worship! You must leave immediately!” he commanded Kort. The guards clearly recognized Kort as one of the Heroes of Overlook and gave him a sheepish look that said ‘Sorry, Kort. We don’t want to, but we have to follow is orders.’ Kort complied and left the temple.
Kort then headed to the Ministry of War to look for their friend Kalad and to report what he had seen and how he had been treated. Kort was led into the building and met with Captain Aerun. Captain Aerun was very happy to be in the presence of one of the Heroes of Overlook and listened intently to what Kort told him. When Kort was done, Aerun gave Kort a quick ‘Okay, thanks. We’ll look into it’ before dismissing Kort. Kort sensed that Aerun was really not interested in what Kort had to say and furthermore, it appeared that while he was listening to Kort, he seems vaguely distant. Something about his behavior was not right.
Perplexed, Kort headed back to the Mountain Hearth Inn. He found Dunedin had returned from his shopping trip but did not stay for long. He got up from the table without saying so much of a word and exited the Mountain’s Hearth. Somewhat concerned by Dunedin’s recent behavior, Boreas elected to tail Dunedin as Dunedin made his way through Overlook to the Nine Bells district and to the Temple of Moradin.

As with Kort, Dunedin found the temple to be a hive of activity as the reconstruction effort continued. As Dunedin attempted to enter the temple, a Dwarf rammed Dunedin with a wheel borrow and confronted Dunedin: “You and your Heroes friends are not welcome around here. You’ve gone and sullied the name of our clan make, Bram Ironfell and our clan! Now get out before we have some trouble!"
Dunedin was take back by all of this and even more surprised when Boreas stood next to him. Heated words were exchanged and it was clear that most of the Dwarves working on the temple were from clan Ironfell and none of them thought much of the Heroes. Just as things were about to erupt in violence, a red bearded Dwarf stepped in: “Get back to work. All of you!” With a grumble, the Dwarves slowly began to return to work. “May I escort you out of here?” he said with a smile. As the Dwarf led them back to the street, Dunedin silently cast a spell of the Dwarf, making him very friendly to the pair. Dunedin and Boreas questioned the man and found the High Ancestor Durkik had ordered the temple reconstructed out of blue about a week ago. He has assigned nearly all of the dwarves from the Stone Anvil to the reconstruction effort. He also solicited the help of other Dwarves and the Ironfell clan stepped up with money and workers to aid the effort. They also learned that Durkik has not been himself as of late and that the dwarf was worried about the High Ancestor.

While Boreas and Dunedin were out and about, the rest of the party enjoyed a little relaxation at the Mountain’s Hearth. Reggan delivered a glorious meal to the table, as well as several flagons of ale. With the food delivered, she leaned in to the group.
“Do you know the name Lavinya?” she asked. When the group said that they were not familiar with that name, she continued. “She’s a priestess at the temple of Erathis, over in the Divine Knot. She’s been leaving messages all over town—says she desperately needs to speak with you. She begs you to come see her at the temple, just as soon as you can get there.” After finishing their meal, the party headed out to the Divine Knot to see what this priestess wanted.

Arriving at the temple the party made their way in to the dilapidated structure and found a woman, aged before her time, in gold robes praying at the altar. She turns when they enter and recognizes them immediately. Looking up towards the heavens she says “Thank you.” She gestures towards the pews at the front of the church: “Please sit. I knew Erathis would guide you to me.” She offers the party some wine then says:
“My name is Lavinya,” she tells you. “I’m the last priestess here; the others all departed years ago, when the Nine Bells went all to seed, and the temples with it. I keep it open and functioning as best I can on my own, but . . ”
She shakes her head, as though reminding herself to stay on topic. “Do you know Haelyn?” she asks. The party tells her that they are not familiar with that name.

“Haelyn is a wonderful old woman. She’s the caretaker of the shrine to Erathis, over in Tradetown.” “I’m sure you know,” she continues, “that most worship of Erathis in Overlook takes place there, rather than here. I must admit, I haven’t always been a friend to Haelyn. I was . . . bitter, very bitter, at what happened to my temple. But after a time, we got to know each other, and we’ve become great friends.

And that’s why I need you!” Lavinya looks up, her eyes suddenly narrowed. “Something is wrong! Something’s happened to Haelyn, I know it, and maybe not just to her!”
Lavinya took a sip of her drink, and then said:
“A few weeks ago, Haelyn just disappeared. I went by the shrine to speak with her and she was gone. There’s a man named Grovald maintaining the shrine now. I don’t know him; I’ve never met him before, and nobody I talk to knows him, either. He told me that Haelyn left on a spiritual retreat and would be back in a few months.”
“But I know better! Haelyn needed no ‘spiritual retreat.’ Her faith was strong, and it was centered on that shrine! And even if she had, she wouldn’t have up and left—not without telling me.”
Now Lavinya shook her head and gauged the reactions of the party, then continued:
“I must confess, I went back at night and snooped around a bit, not just in the shrine, but peering through the windows of the groundskeeper’s cottage. I’ve offered penance to Erathis for my trespass, but I had to know what happened!
I didn’t . . . I found no trace of Haelyn, but I did catch a glimpse of a letter through the cracks in the shutters. I couldn’t read much of it, and I dared not stay long, but I’m certain it was addressed to ‘G’—that must be Grovald, right?—and it began with ‘I am commanded to ask if you’ve had any further problems with the worshipers of . . .’ That’s all I saw, but it sounds sinister enough!
“And that,” she says morosely, “is where things got even worse. I went to the authorities, but they told me there was nothing to look into, that Haelyn—or any citizen—can travel as they please. I spoke to some of the other priests—Aelys of Bahamut, Durkik of Moradin at the Stone Anvil, Kyrrist of Avandra, even Matron Volorvyn of the Raven Queen. Some of these have long been my friends, and even those who were not have at least been respected colleagues. And all of them brushed me off! They were distant, uncaring, even cold, as though my worries were of no moment! Volorvyn appeared barely to recognize me, and while we’ve never been close, we’ve known one another on and off for years.”
Lavinya looks at each of the Heroes before continuing.
“And that’s when I thought of you, Overlook’s new heroes. I’m terrified that something has happened to my friend and that something is wrong with my fellow priests. I should, we all should, be showering you with gifts and thanks, not heaping even more cares onto your shoulders—but I’ve little influence left in this city, and I have nobody else to whom I can turn.”

After hearing Lavinya’s tale, the party decided it best to head straight to the Shrine of Erathis in Tradetown to see what was going on.

They found the shrine to be little more than an altar littered with remnants of candles and scraps of paper. Wood benches offered worshipers a crude place to sit while they prayed. The altar and pews where surrounded by a tent like structure supported by wooden poles to keep the rain away.
Behind the tent was a broken fountain sporting a statue of Erathis in the middle of it. Two grounds keeper huts sat off to the side of the tent and fountain.
Pacing back and fourth behind the altar was a bald man with sharp, hawkish features wearing a black robe. He would occasionally reply to a worshipers prays with a “So may it be” but it was abundantly clear that this man did not want to be there. The party surmised that this was Grovald. Not wanting to cause a scene during the day, the party decided to come back and night and have a word with Grovald.

Once darkness settled over Overlook, the party returned to the Shrine. Gothe, Samhain and Dunedin elected to sneak up to the groundskeeper shacks while the rest of the party waited down the road a bit. The trio snuck up to the shack and found it to be empty. Just as they were about to move on, a voiced called out from the dark: “I’m just as glad you chose to come here at night. It makes things so much neater when we need not involve the authorities, don’t you think?”
They turned to see a bald, sharp-faced man in dark clothes all but fading into the shadows, and movement came from several other individuals in the night around him. The battle was on.

Isolated from their more sturdy companions, Sam, Gothe and Dunedin bore the brunt of the initial assault. Assassin’s daggers tore into Samhain, gravely wounding him. Boreas, Kort and Sink rushed in and engaged the enemy. While the battle was tough, the party made short work of their assailants once they were able to regroup. As they searched their enemy they watched, to their horror, as the human assassin’s skin turned pale and they eyes grew wide and dark! They were doppelgangers!

The Sam, Gothe and Dunedin searched the cottages while Boreas, Sink and Kort search the rest of the grounds. In the cottage, Sam found the remnants of a partially burned note in the fireplace. It read:
“….unreachable for a time, as I must . . . the priests’ orders as you would my own, for he . . . s always, be certain you destroy this mis . . .
. . . eneral Zi . . .”

Under the bed, Gothe found a small pouch that contained 4 polished stores of alexandrite, worth 500gp each and 100gp.

A shout from behind the fountain brought Sam, Dunedin and Gothe outside – Sink had found something. Buried in a shallow grave behind the fountain was the body of Haelyn.

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Amyria's Ritual
Den of the Destroyer - RP Email 3

With the deactivated portal shimmering in the background, you collect Dunedin’s body and lay it on the floor near the center of the chamber. Gothe searches the bodies and returns with several bags of gold pieces, a valuable statue depicting a Githzerai warrior, a valuable gem and a set of magic bracers. As he piles the valuables on the floor, he unfolds a bloody piece of paper he retrieved off of Fengren. He reads it before handing it to the group. It reads:
Fengren,
I cannot stress the importance of holding Fortress Graystone. Among the assignments I have given you, this should be your top priority. I have armed you well enough that you should be able to repel all invaders.
Do what you will with your prisoners, but continue taking them. Focus your efforts on those who seem to be of some importance; do not waste your time with farmers and commoners.
I am sending someone to train your recruits in the use of our weapons, at your request. However, I expect you to leave this one alone. The witch I sent to you was one of my personal advisors, and now she is ruined. Do not treat my people as callously as you do your own.
-Sarshan
As you sit, taking in this revelation, a familiar, yet very faint voice is heard: “Heroes…… the portal must…. still be permanently sealed….. as it is a bridge between this realm….the Astral Sea and the Elemental Chaos. This temple was built here…. for a reason. It was built to…… protect….. this bridge from those who…..would seek to use it for evil.“ Amyria says. It is evident that she is very weak and has very little power left to communicate with you. “Samhain….you unsheathe me and…… complete…… the ritual to seal the portal and restore me to my rightful form. Take the ritual….from your Eladrin friend…… and I will guide you.”
Taking the scroll off Dunedin, Sam follows Amyria’s instructions and begins to perform the ritual. After tem minutes a vortex of brilliant energy opens up in the air as the platinum sword is gently tugged from your hands. It rises to hover in the air before the newly formed conduit, tendrils of silver light reaching out to touch it. You are blinded by a brilliant flash, then an instant later, the ritual chamber falls silent.
Standing before you is a young human female of unearthly beauty and grace. Her silver hair hangs down her back, a band of chalk-white pigment stretching from one temple to the other across her eyes. She is garbed in armor made of slender, overlapping plates. In one hand, she holds a leather-bound tome; in the other, the platinum longsword.
“I am Amyria,” she says. “Who are you, and why am I here?”

[Khort]
Khort sheathes his war hammer behind his back and steps forward. “We came here to hopefully free you and stop this sanctum from being used to bring in… rather unfortunate evil demigods. Please… our friend is dead. Do you have any powers that can help us heal him? Restore his life?”

[Boreas]
Boreas stands slack-jawed, heaving huge gulps of air. The injuries of the battle ring through his body (ooc: seriously my back is killing me. No more WWE gaming moves)and he stares blankly at Dunedin’s body. A sadness welling up, at the loss of his brother in arms, that only a warden could feel as deep. The glowing portal and presence of this spectral beauty barely register to this massive, hulking beast.

[Samhain]
Sam addresses the Keeper of Chaos: “My lady, we are known as the Brindol Brigade. I am Samhain Foamfollower, and these are my blood-brothers in arms (he introduces the group). Our fallen friend there is Dunedin, a wizard of no small skill. You are in an ancient Githzerai Temple, oddly enough located on the Material Plane. I must confess, I know but a small part of your story, but what do you remember? Perhaps I can fill in some of the gaps of your memory. Do you not recall being trapped in the sword?”

[Sink]
Sink furrows his brow and whispers, “The wrong do-gooder died today.”

[DM]
Amyria looks to Dunedin, then back to the group: “I am sorry for the loss of your friend but there is nothing I can do for him now.”
“I am afraid that I remember very little” she says, looking down in thought, searching her mind. After a few moments she looks back up.
“I remember that I am Amyria,” she says softly, “I was in the sword. I remember you freed me. The ritual you performed transformed the planar breach in this place, allowing it to channel the energy of the Astral Sea. Energy necessary for my transformation.” She looks to you, eyes bright. “I have been reborn with purpose, even if that purpose is yet unclear to me.”

[Khort]
“Does this mean you have become the demi-god that we sought to keep Fengrin from becoming?” Khort reaches behind his back cautiously.

[DM]
Amyria shakes her head: “No friend. I am no exarch… in fact” she looks down at her body “I don’t know what I am. I will need to pray and speak to the gods to see why they have put me here… what my purpose is.”
She stares, lost in thought, then lifts her head and speaks: “Overlook? Does that mean anything to you? I have a strong pull or imprinted memory telling me I must go to Overlook”

[Boreas]
Boreas snaps to, regarding Amyria with thinly veiled skepticism, “We will gladly escort you to Overlook, but we might rest here until we all feel ourselves again. I do not know much of this magic, but I do know how to fight. All will know that I shall fight to the death to protect my traveling allies”
His hulking body flexes as he looks over his brothers.

[Sink]
Sink smiles. “Please, put those pecs away, Big B. We’ve seen more than enough of yer rippling girth today.”

[Boreas]
….Well, fight to the death for almost everyone."

[Samhain]
Sam rubs the ache in his right shoulder and asks, “There are many questions to be addressed, Amyria, but obviously our first goal must be to leave this place, and return to Brindol. From there, we can heal and regroup, perhaps even get Dunedin brought back before his soul strays too far into the Raven Queen’s domain. After that, we know Overlook rather well, and there will plenty of time on that journey for questions of purpose and identity.
So, brothers: do we rest here, or make haste to Brindol? I’m uncertain of how long before Dunedin is beyond any aid, but I fear we would be sorely pressed by any remnants of Fengren’s forces, or anything at all, we encounter.”

[DM]
“Whatever you and your companions decide, please do it quickly so we can get on our way with haste” Amyria said.

[Khort]
“If she is called to Overlook, perhaps our worst fears are realized, and the very city may be in peril. Tell me, Amyria, are your feelings of a warning nature, or is the draw a compulsion? If it is a warning, a psychic plea, perhaps it would be wise to not tarry in Brindol for too long, though it is of the utmost importance to save friend Dunedin. Perhaps, I might suggest, there is better aid for him in Overlook, and we might smash two birds with one hammer.”
He looks at her in a thoughtful way. “Either way, a life for a life. This is a fair trade. Let’s seek to better it.”

[Samhain]
Sam looks at his battered and gore-spattered friends. “Not all of that is the blood of gnolls, Khort. We wouldn’t survive another ambush in the shape we’re in, be it by Rix or a pack of stray dogs. No, I’m afraid we have to rest here if we are to have any chance of saving Dunedin without falling ourselves.”
He looks around the huge altar chamber, briefly passing his gaze over the corpses of gnolls and villagers alike. “Although, perhaps not in this exact spot. Come, let’s find a more suitable area. Maybe the antechamber or the steps?”
Samhain winces as he shoulders his pack, and slowly, painfully makes for the main exit, casting an odd, unreadable glance at Amyria as he passes her.

[Boreas]
Boreas slaps his hand down on Khort’s broad shoulder,
“I admire your urgency and bravery brother, but this girth is a barkin’. Patience, my friend, and we will fight again”.

[DM]
The party, with Amyria in tow, exits Fortress Graystone via the two massive stone doors to stand atop the stone staircase. The sun is beginning to set on this warm summer evening as the party settles in for a much needed rest. From their campsite atop the stairs of this mountain fortress, the group is afforded a spectacular view of the entire Elsir Vale as it is painted with the hues of a sunset.
Amyria sits with you at the camp, legs crossed, deep in meditation or prayer.

[Samhain]
As the sun breaks through the morning clouds, Sam crawls from his tent and rummages through the group’s rations for a meal. Taking a rasher of salt pork and dry biscuits to Amyris he sits next to her. “It’s not much, but it’s food. Lady Amyria, I’m sure you have questions, as do we, but first, let me tell you a story. A tale of a dream, of visions and nightmares that perchance may spark some memories for you, and lead us all to the answers we all seek.”
Sam then begins to relate his dreams of the dark, hooded figure and the amorphous beasts that serve him, of the killing of Amyria in his dreams, of the vision of the motes of light and his mother. Finally, he tells her of the connection between the beast and Boreas’ weapon, but finishes with, “yet I should leave that tale for my brother, as it goes beyond what I can say, and ties his people to you and I as well. So, what does this mean to you, my Lady, Keeper of Chaos?”

[DM]
“My little friend, I do not know why you keep calling me The Keeper of Chaos but I prefer you call ey Amyria." she begins. “That is an amazing take you’ve told me. Surely they have some meaning – some message – but what I would not know. In fact, I know next to nothing. It is as if I’ve been reborn for I have no memories of anything before I found myself in the Temple room surrounded by you all. I have vague recollections of being in the sword and of the ritual, but that is all. I am being pulled towards Overlook for some reason. Perhaps destiny guides me in the same way it appears to be guiding you.”

[Khort]
Khort considers her words and watches the fire.
“I can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding, as if by the time we get back to Overlook it will be destroyed. How can you be sure the force calling you back to Overlook is benign? You were just captured, in a sword, controlled. Maybe this is more evil magic.”

[DM]
“I do not share your sense of foreboding, Khort” Amyria said. “I do not have any sense, good or bad, other than Overlook is where I will discover the purpose behind my rebirth. In Overlook I can pray. As I prayed and meditated last night, a vision of the temple of Bahamut in Overlook came to me. I suspect it is there I will find answers or at least guidance. Bahamut is a good and just deity so we have little to fear with regard to my guidance.”

[Khort]
“Is Bahamut who calls to you?”

[DM]
Amyria takes a bite of the salted pork Samhain gave her and chews it thoughtfully before continuing: "I cannot say for certain that it is he who guides me. Much like my need to get to Overlook, I am getting impressions of Bahamut in my body, my soul. I see visions of his temple when I meditate. "

[Khort]
Khort nods. “Is this temple in one piece? Is it under siege?”

[Sink]
“Alright… Rise and shine, kiddos.” Sink mumbles while nudging Boreas’ slumbering bulk with his foot. “We can drop Amy and her tiny new boyfriend off at The Bahamut Shrine in Brindol while we tend to our fried fey friend. They can continue their praying and k-i-s-s-i-n-g while we prep to continue our journey on to Overlook and their Dragon Lord’s holy place.”

[DM]
Looking to Khort: “In my visions, it is in one piece.” Finishing her rations, she turns to Sink: " I am ready to go when you all are, however, the temple I seek is in Overlook."

[Sink]
Sink snorts, “No shit. That’s what I meant by their (meaning “Overlook’s”) Dragon Lord’s(meaning “Bahumet’s”) holy place (meaning Shrine). Fuck it. Let’s get on with this."

[DM]
“Indeed” Amyria says to Sink with an indifferent glare that boarders on distain, “Let’s get on with it.” With that, she stands and dusts herself off before moving to the top of the stairs: “After you. Lead on to Brindol.”
The group packs up and heads back to Brindol. The journey takes a day or two but the path they forged before is easy enough to follow. The traps and misdirection’s set up by Rix on the journey here remain disarmed. It would appear that Rix has given up the hunt…… at least for now.
The trip passes uneventfully. While she seems somewhat distant at times, you find Amyria to be an enjoyable traveling companion, if not a talkative one. When not asking questions about their journey and adventures, she engages the party in casual conversation.
At the end of the second day, the party passes between the guard towers that flank Brindol’s north road. The guards wave and smile as you come into sight, however, their happiness turns to sorrow when they see that you are carrying a fallen comrade. They rush up to the party: “By Ioun’s Grace! What happened to your brave friend? This is a terrible day for all.” The guard turns to one of the watch runners. “Topher, hurry and find Mr. Troyas. Tell him the Heroes have returned and one of them has fallen in battle.”

[Khort]
Khort watches and waits for the return of Troyas. As he does, he calls for a few of the guards to help carry Dunedin and spell his companions.

[DM]
Within a few moments, Eoffram Troyas can be seen hustling down the street from his home at the Council House towards Market Square where the party waits with the guards.
“Curse the Raven Queen” he says as he approaches and sees Dunedin’s lifeless form. “Guards, quickly, take one of the carts and horses from the guard tower and make haste to the Shrine of the Sun!”
The guards do as they are instructed while Eoffram moves towards to group. “My friends,” he says with concern “what has happened? I trust the rest of you are okay?” Looking over the group and then to Amyria: “And who is this you’ve brought back? You know what…. save it for supper.” He quickly turns and shouts to his conscript: “Topher, make haste to my manor and tell Ms. Caswell to prepare a feast for the Heroes have returned. Make sure His Holiness Martin joins us so he can consult with the Heroes regarding their friend.”
Turning back to the group, he gestures with his hand towards his home: “After you, please.” Extending his hand to Amyria: “My lady, follow me.” You make your way to his home.

[Khort]
Accompanying Troyas, Khort walks alongside him. "We must make haste. The lady informs us of peril at Overlook. Have there been any developments in Brindol?

[Samhain]
Sam speaks up, having been rather silent and thoughtful for the last few miles of the journey. “Fengren and his minions are dead, or dispersed. As far as I can figure, Eoffram, there is still danger in the Vale. We found these notes on the gnolls, and a shadar-kai weapons master sent to train them. We still don’t know who is pulling the strings, though. I still doubt that Sarshan is anything more than what he is, a mercenary and arms dealer.”

[DM]
“The people of Brindol are forever in your debt for putting an end to the gnoll menace that has plagued the Vale of late.” Eoffram says. “We are very lucky that Lady Amyria, though she does not remember doing so, and Sertanian were able to summon you in time to stop him.”
He raises his glass of fine wine: “A toast: To the Heroes of Brindol. May the gods favor forever grace them!”
As you drink to the toast, an elderly man enters the room. “Welcome back heroes, I am Martin, humble servant of Pelor. I am so terribly sorry to see that one of you fell in battle against the gnolls. Do you wish to have a service for him or…..” he trails of, looking to the group.

[Sink]
Sink says, “We wish to resurrect our friend.”

[DM]
High Cleric Martin’s face turns visibly white at Sink’s request: " Ressure…. uhhhh.. I’ve never… " Martin stumbles over the words coming from his mouth. He is visible shaken and looks to Eoffram Troyas.
With a reassuring nod to Martin, Eoffram says, “It’s okay, Martin. Please begin to make any necessary preparations needed. We can deal with the cost later.”

“Yes, sir.” Martin said with a little more confidence. “I’ve never brought the dead back to life. I’ll…. have to research what is needed. The clerics and I will get to work immediately.” Martin turned and began to leave the room.
“Martin,” Eoffram called to him.
“Yes?”
“Select only the clerics who have seen the elf’s corpse. Tell the others that the elf is close to death, and you are working to heal him. I’d like to keep this as quiet as possible.” Eoffram said.
“Understood, sir.” Martin said with a nod before he exited the room.
Eoffram turned back to the group: “I hope you understand the need for discretion in this matter. Returning the dead back to life is not something many are accustomed to and comfortable with, especially with all the troubles in the Vale as of late. Necromancy, being normally associated with dark magics and foul creations, is looked upon with distain and distrust by many. If word gets out that High Cleric Martin brought the dead back to life within the walls of Brindol, it could ruin his reputation and standing, as well as mine and yours. Your friend, Dunedin, could potentially be run out of town if word spread that he has returned from the realm of the Raven Queen. The guards would protect him, of course, but I can only do so much before the people would begin to mistrust me. It’s a very delicate subject, as you can see.” Eoffram lets out a sigh. “Let’s hope it does not come to that, though.”
A grand meal is ushered in by wait staff and set on the table. Once they leave, he continues: “I instructed Martin to employ only the clerics who have seen Dunedin’s corpse to help with the ritual. Their faith will prevent them from speaking of the matter. The guards who helped you at the gate are another matter, though. It would be best to buy their silence to ensure our secret remains safe. Is this something you’d be agreeable to?”
[Out of Character: It should be noted that I do not want this to sound like extortion. I am just trying to come up with a creative way of having you guys pay the 500gp since Brindol would most likely cover the cost for their Heroes. I also want to instill a sense that resurrections are not commonplace and are often frowned upon. That is all, not get to posting.]

[Samhain]
Absolutely, Eoffram. I understand the need for discretion, as I am well familiar with prejudice against magic. It is too bad that so many don’t see that magic is itself neither good nor evil, it’s what the user does with that power that matters.
More important, though, is this issue of your guards. It’s been my observation that no matter the bribe, it’s the integrity of the person that seals their lips. What I’m trying to say is, if a guard would talk, he will do so regardless of what we pay him.

[DM]
“I understand your concern, Sam.” Eoffram said. “We won’t present it as a bribe, as much as it will be a reward for hard service in the name of Brindol and for helping to carry the injured elf to the temple to be healed.”

[Boreas]
Boreas discretely puts his share of the ritual on the table, grabs a small cask of ale, and walks outside. As much as he would like to see his brother in arms reanimated, he has seen this type of magic before, and is wary of it.

[Khort]
Khort puts out his share. “It is our pleasure, and we are grateful for your willingness to stretch your belief systems to save our friend.”
He sips thoughtfully at his mug of beer. “Do you know of any reason why our new friend Amyria may have no memory?”

[Samhain]
Sam turns his attention from Boreas’ retreating back, consternation on his small face. Leaving his barely sipped wine, he rummages through the party’s packs; he finds what he seeks and turns to Eoffram. Placing a large, exquisite gem on the table in front of the councilor [OOC: the 500Gp gem], he says "such magics are neither easy, nor inexpensive. This should cover the material cost for the ritual. As for rewarding the guards, I meant not to disparage their honor, but these are times of conflict. Forgive my doubts. What amount would suffice? "

[DM]
Eoffram holds his hand up to the part in a gesture saying ‘no more’: “You all are too generous. The gem will be more than enough to return Dunedin to life and to keep any rumors of necromancy quiet. No please, let’s eat and enjoy the evening.” Eoffram takes a long drink off of his wine and takes a few bits of food.
Turning to Khort: “I know little regarding the details of magic, my friend. Based on what you have told me, perhaps her memory loss is part the rebirth she experience. Perhaps she is not the same Amyria or is only a fragment of the Amyria in the sword. I have no idea, to be honest.”
Amyria listens into the conversation quietly before pushing her chair back and standing: “If you’ll all excuse me. I’d like to stop by the temple before turning in for the night. Good night.” She leaves the room.
After a long night of festivities, the group awakens in the plush bedrooms of Eoffram’s estate. The smell of bacon and tea rouses you from your alcohol induced slumbers.
Once you all get dressed and make your way downstairs it is just before noon. Much to your surprise, you find a familiar face sitting at the dining table, staring at the variety of breakfast foods spread before him on the table. Dunedin looks up to you all as you enter.
Before words of greeting can be exchanged, Eoffram’s squire, Topher, enters the room and hands you a note: “You’re lady friend left this on the door this morning. It was addressed to you.”
The note reads:
Brave Heroes,
Thank you for all you have done and for escorting me to Brindol. My journey leads me to Overlook and I cannot tarry here any longer. I have secured passage to Overlook with a trading company.
Samhain, I will find you when you arrive in Overlook for I feel we will have much to discuss.
Sincerely,
Amyria

[Khort]
Khort snorts. (Sorry couldn’t help myself.) “She has no idea how dangerous these roads are. We must make haste to catch up with her! How long will the resurrection take? We can do double time to make up the distance, but I fear we will find nothing but a wrecked caravan!”

[Dunedin]
Dunedin, weary, staring at his food with little interest says quietly, “It is bleeding.”

[Samhain]
Dunedin? You ok?

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