Shadows of Absalom

Chapter 13
Behold, Copperwood!

the party began to get anxious as they waited for the raven-haired paladin of Iomedae, Helennas Corvina, to arrive from Absalom.  As the evening began to get late, Russ, Svala, and Zenari, along with Lupo, decided to check the south road going from Copperwood to Absalom, to see if the paladin might have been delayed.  And indeed, as they walked the dark road almost 5 miles south of Copperwood, they could see flashes of light and the ringing sound of battle on the dark road ahead!  Off they ran, and came quickly upon the young paladin, who was surrounded by a small group of 4 gnolls, and fighting for her life!  The party stepped in to assist, and between the five of them killed off the gnoll raiders ; Helennas informed them that she'd been attacked on and off by a group of gnolls almost as soon as she'd left the city and headed north along the road.  She said that she'd killed several others, whose bodies lay on the road back towards the capitol.  A quick look at the bodies revealed some gold and silver, and also note the fact that, once again, these raiders seemed to be fighting with shiny new weapons.  Before they returned, the paladin cured those wounded in the fight, and, more importantly, laid hands and cured Russ of his greenscale disease.

They returned late, and everyone returned to their rooms in the Pampered Poodle, while the paladin went to rest in the shrine at Saber Hall

Russ, meanwhile, went to the Blackhawk Livery & Stable to meet with Ink and Stink, the twin halfling rogues who were rumored to sell illicit drugs from behind the stable.  The twins gave Russ some information about the missing halfling mage and her paramour, and after some convincing they showed Russ where the two had been hiding (in the apple shed at Locust Grove).  The paltry belongings did indeed prove that the pair had been on the run from enslavement in Cheliax, and probably had been pursued by Hellknights.  They seemed concerned and anxious about their halfling bretheren, and asked Russ to pass any word about they, should they discover any.  While with the twins, Russ also purchased a bag of purple mushrooms for 30 gp, in order to 'see stars'.

While Russ dealt with the halfling twins, Svala and Zenari maneuvered the town constables to overlook their breaking of the Copperwood curfew by buying them drinks at Apple Jack's, a low-brow, dingy tavern that sells cheap fermented apple cider.  There they met the owner and operator of the tavern, the tough-looking, one-armed Guard veteran Crogue Garrack, as well the pitiful goblin 'bard', Pipsqueak

The next day was spent almost entirely by the party investigating the disappearances of the children and halflings that seemed to plague the town over the past 6 months or so.  They spoke with elven druid Elias Fernwood at his locust tree shrine to the Green Faith, Locust Grove, and learned that his 'little birds' had told him of a red shape that had flown over the town several times over the period when children were missing – they could not identify the shape, and when asked where it was flying the answer was 'up', as though it was trying to avoid being seen, even by birds. 

They also went to Bede's Alembic, and spoke with the Andoran herbalist and alchemist, Cirhann Slovak, who was unable to discern what the flying red shape might be.  Russ did, however, purchase two vials of Alchemist Fire from him, and Svala paid him to brew a potion of Reduce Self for her.

The group then headed to the Town Dump, and thence to pay a visit to the strange fey creature known as Rumpletweezle, who lived in a fairy hawthorn bush nearby, to see if he might aid them (and not curse them).  They spoke to Eustis Purdle at the Dump, who did not have much to say other than mention in passing that a body had been dumped there several weeks back.  They spoke, more or less, with the slow but good-hearted half orc, Gort, who confirmed the story of the dead body, and who would enlist Svala's aid in killing 'critters' in the dump, especially ROUS

Before that, however, the party was able to successfully gift Svala's magic brooch to Rumpletweezle, who favored them with magic rings before vanishing.

Before the day ended, the party went outside of town to visit the town Burial Grounds, and met the priestess of Pharasma, Argenta Fosse, and her tiny talking fey bird, Pix.  The bird also noticed the red shape that the other birds saw, but said it came from the north east of the town, towards the Spire of Nex.

It was decided that the group, along with the paladin, would go to the Spire the next day.  That night, however, Russ tried one of his purple mushrooms, and had a very colorful and enchanting 8 hour 'trip'.  Unfortunately, the next day Russ experienced a 'backburn', or a very dark return 'trip', which Zenari had to utilize the healing kit in order to revive the investigator.  The content and nature of Russ's return trip have yet to be discussed among the party.

Having exhausted all other ideas, the party began the trip out to the Spire of Nex; about half way there they were attacked by a trio of perytons, who seemed to focus on Svala and Karla.  The group drove the winged creatures off, and the party now had to decide if they were going to continue on to the Spire or chase down the perytons into the Cairnlands.

 

 

 

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Chapter 12
The Road to Diobel

The party, along with Karla Thules, stayed a couple of days on Fort Iccanor, then met up with a Vudrani caravan bound for the new fort, lead by Kamal Rhadrumjana and his nephews, Objay and Jaya.  The caravan put their journey aside to help the party go back down south to Copperwood, and from there procure mounts and go west across the Isle of Kortos to DiobelLexo and Maverick agreed to join them.  Cowen decided to stay behind because he fell in love with and married a moose named Moosley.

It was an eventful journey south; on the evening of the second day, while they were in camp for the night, the party was attacked by a pair of female lions, and then a larger male lion, which killed Objay before they themselves were killed by the party.

The third night the party was attacked again as they camped, this time by a flock of dire stirges.  While the creatures were all either killed or driven off, they inflicted a lot of damage to the party, including several who became quite sick – Russ especially.  Barring any further attacks, the group decided to press on quickly to Copperwood.  Once in town, Maverick decided he needed to take some time off, and excused himself from the group, while the rest went to the local shrine of Iomedae, called Saber Hall, to see if they could get healed.   There, they met the  priest stationed there, Silanus Fiore, a young Taldan who was able to give them some help, but was unable to cure Russ, who remained behind in the Pampered Poodle and rested, along with Lexo.

Fiore advised the group to wait until he could get his  friend, Hellenas Corvina, an outstanding young paladin of Iomedae to come up from Absalom to help them.  In the meantime, perhaps they might be able to assist a group of locals who have been missing chidren, and not been getting a lot of help from the Copperwood Constabulary.  It seemed a group of them met every couple of nights in a back room of the Poodle, where they tried to figure out some way to find out what was going on.   The party, minus Russ and Lexo, went over and talked with several Copperheads about what had been going on lately.  It seemed over the last 6 months or so a number of children, as well as a favorite dog, had gone missing, including a simple, lame child this same day.  Also, it turned out that a pair of halflings on the run from Cheliax had also gone missing several weeks ago, and at least one of them was thought to be a mage.  The mage, a female, turned up missing, and the male went to look for her somewhere in the Cairnlands, but no one has seen either of them since.  The townsfolk went to the Constabulary to have them look for the missing children; search parties were formed, and they looked, but no one could find anything in town, and no one seemed to want to look very hard outside of town.  Some said the Spire of Nex might be involved, although it is 6 miles north of town, while others mentioned a certain fey creature much closer to town, Rumpletweezle, might be involved.

The episode ended with the party agreeing to try and figure out what happed to the children and the halflings to see if they were related, but first to wait on the paladin to arrive to cure Russ.  It was getting close to midnight, and the paladin had still not arrived.

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Chapter 11
The Tide is Stemmed

Chapter 11

With the gnolls decimated, and the goblins cowed and melted away, all that was left was for the group to assist the fort in dealing with the remaining undead emerging from the portal forced open between their world and the realm of the undead.  The undead continued to pour out for several more rounds before the portal vanished – and the tide swiftly turned.  More archers and fighters rushed up to fight the creatures, which were dispatched soon enough.  Final casualty count for the fort was 16 dead, twice that wounded among the soldiers, and another dozen non-combatants dead, and 20 more wounded.  Well over 100 skeletons, zombies, and ghouls were dragged out away from the fort and set on fire.  The dead soldiers and non-coms were all properly buried, and the injured given as much help as was possible, given the circumstances.

Patrols went out, with the PCs assisting, to make sure nothing else would attack the fort that day; one of the patrols managed to capture a lone goblin, who, before it died, spoke of a 'plan B', which involved the goblin tribes gathering to make an collective assault on the new fort in a few days.

Dispatches were sent out by ravens to Absalom, Diobel, and the other forts, and the wheels were set in motion to get the Kortos Expeditionary Forces on the move to counteract the goblin plan.  Meanwhile, the group's new young friend, Carla, has been given a mission to go overland to Diobel, where she will present vital communiques that wre too heavy to be included in the ravens, as well as a promissory note paying for badly needed supplies from Diobel to be sent to Fort Iccanor.  She also must help the KEF fulfill its contract by remaining in the Diobel headquarters, while the rest of the force sets out to support the new mission.  The PCs have been asked to accompany Carla on her dangerous mission west to Diobel, and await the unit's return – for their trouble the PC group will be paid a lump sum of 500 gp + 10% of the profits from the recent battle as well as the one to come.

Carla, who is originally from Diobel, hence her choice for this mission, will instruct the PCs in anything they wish to know about the town that she knows.  The plan is to wait an additional day, at which point a Vudrani caravan from Absalom is scheduled to arrive – the group will use that caravan to get back to Copperwood, and there buy mules and a maybe a wagon to go west to Diobel.

 

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Chapter 10
An Unforgetable Night!

Chapter 10

The group accompanied the caravan the rest of the way to Fort Iccanor; several miles before entering the fortification, the players could observe a large black balloon floating overhead several hundred feet in the air over the main gate – its purpose was inscrutable.  They noted the tin coverings on the wooden palisade, which gave the  Fort its nickname, the “Tin Palace”.

Once at the  Fort, the party’s initial job was finished, and they concluded their business with Erlan and his caravan company.  They left the next day, leaving Lexo and Maverick behind.  The next caravan due for to supply the further new fort, would arrive in several days, and so the group stayed at the Fort and rested. During this time, the party recuperated from their previous attack by the gnolls; they enjoyed the Mountain View Tavern, and got to know several of the locals and KEF members.  No one would discuss, however, the black balloon flying overhead.  The party discovered that the  Fort is commanded by Kellid female Sergeant Enid Tosca, along with mage Naxos Vremall and cleric of Iomedae Mortimer deLacySargeant Karl Lavea, who accompanied the caravan that brought you to the  Fort, is scheduled to receive training here, and then transfer as second in command to the new fort in 3 months.

Very early in the morning of the day the new caravan was to arrive (day 3), while it was still dark, the general alarm was sounded, and all hands grabbed weapons and went to the wall – the Fort was surrounded!  It appeared that a large group (about 200) of goblins with bows and slings were around the perimeter of the Fort, while a large group (about 100) of gnolls massed in ranks just outside the main gate.  Several figures in black seemed to be in command, one of which came forward and demanded the surrender of the FortSergeant Tosca immediately declined, and then one of the figured in black began some kind of spell, which ended with an object being sling-shot over the palisade and into the Fort, saying “Behold, the Tears of Pharasma”.

Once inside, everyone nearby could some kind of fell magic at work, as the very fabric of reality was torn asunder, and a large area blacker than the surrounding darkness was formed, a shredded tear in the fabric that keeps the planes aside – and from that dark area, all kinds of undead creatures began to pour out.  Skeletons, zombies, shadows, etc, emerged from all directions and began to attack and kill the inhabitants, as the plan became clear: the goblin archers and gnoll warriors were there to keep the Fort’s defenders in, not break into the Fort themselves. 

Finding themselves pressed from both inside and out, the soldiers, along with the party’s help, began to attack the invading undead creatures; soon it became apparent that the mage, Naxos Vremall, had some kind of plan involving the unknown black balloon overhead, and he encouraged the party to open the main gate and bait the gnolls by yelling that the defenders were leaving.  The gnoll leader overhead the shouts, and ordered his shock troops forward to the front gate to prevent the defenders from leaving – and that’s when the mage threw his plan into action: he fired a magic missile up into the balloon, which burst, tipping the basket below the balloon and allowing thousands of heavy, foot long, aerodynamic spikes, called flechettes, to rain down and decimate the gnolls in front of the gate.

The gnoll’s casualties were appalling; apart from the leader, very few gnolls limped away from the flechette attack – and when the goblins saw what happened, most of them melted away.  With their support quickly dwindling, the black robed figured departed, leaving the defenders, including the party, to combat the undead hordes, which continued to issue forth from the pulsing black void.

The chapter ended with the defenders very much pressed by the undead horde inside the walls.

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Chapter 9
Off to the Wild Interior!

In the days following the group's return from the Drownyard in the Precipice Quarter, it became apparent very quickly that the article in the Tattler had turned up the heat on Russ: as he recovered from his wisdom drain, and spent the time haggling and selling loot, the local Guard were trolling the Eastgate District, looking for him for questioning about his involvement with the Tragar Grimvald escape at the docks in Escadar.  By the end of the week, Russ came to the inevitable conclusion that it might be best for him to leave the city for a while – fortunately,  an opportunity to do just that came from Zenari.  Newly reunited with a legally papered Lupo, the druids in Evergreen Park needed someone to find out what was going on with the new fort being established in the interior by the Kortos Expeditionary Force, who had been meeting stiffer than usual resistance trying to establish a new post in the dry wilderness north of Absalom, in the hilly uplands between the Kortos Mounts to the west and the open sea to the east.  The new fortification was located at a spot some 24 miles north of Fort Iccanor, which was getting a re-supply via a civilian caravan very soon.  As several druids and scouts who assisted the KEF's new fortification were killed, the Shepherds Crux wanted to know what was going on. 

Also during this time Svala discovered that Jayne Seoni, the younger artist sister of Calistria priestess Rosemund Seoni, had been visited again by Jakke, the young hotspur of House Dureanz, this time with several of his family and friends, and that she'd been assaulted in public by him.  Not having the time to investigate the incident properly, Jayne moved from her home in the Ivy District to stay with her sister at the Small Temple of Calistria in The Petals District.

By the end of the week, the group enlisted with Zenari to go out with Erlin Dumatrov's caravan out to Fort Iccanor.  For the journey, Cowen purchased a riding goat from shifty halfling Reeko Barrelbottom at Reeko's Critters, whom he promptly named Gruff.  The trek started off with a brief stop over in Copperwood, where sandwiches and ale were purchased from the Pampered Poodle Tavern for the journey.  During the trek, the group got to know some of their fellow companions hired to see the caravan safely north, including Erlin, his half-elf bard wife Varella, their sons Rao and Pioter, and fellow guards Aliya, Lexo, and Maverick.  Also accompanying the caravan was young KEF Platoon Sergeant, Karl.

All was relatively quiet for the first couple of days; but on the third day the skies opened up and the rains came down, making the hard journey through the broken hills even more difficult because of mud and flash flooding.  As the caravan was mired in a deep muddy spot, it was attacked by a group of 13 gnolls!  A fierce battle ensued, and things looked grim for both Varella and Maverick, but in the end the caravan guards won, and there were 13 dead gnolls lying in the steaming mud at the end of the day.  And here is where Chapter 9 came to a close.

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Epilog B

From: the Absalom Tattler – All the News That's Fit to Sell!

Fresh New Outrage Plagues the Westgate District!

Intrepid reporters from the Tattler have discovered more information regarding the case of five year old Aneas Levittion, the boy found murdered two nights ago in an alley between Ironmonger's Lane and a low artisan's tavern called the Pewter Pot, not far from the Sally Gate.  An anonymous tip given recently to the Kortos Calvary commander has provided some information that may help crack the case:  the Tattler has learned that a certain upstanding merchant in the Coins has provided the name of a certain shady person, and his gang of ruffians and leg-breakers, who allegedly had a hand in the escape of the notorious child murder, Traegar Grimvald, from his holding facility in Escadar, to the Commander – as a new person of interest the Guard will be searching high and low to find this low character and his gang to find out the level of their involvement and what they might know.  The name of this individual is either "Ross" or "Russ", no last name given, but it appears this individual resides in the Eastgate District of the City, where he operates a street gang of dangerous thugs, including a brawny blonde Ulfen woman with a large axe and cleavage-enhancing armor.  If any good citizen has reliable information about this person, or his minions, we encourage you to go to your local Guard station and tell what you know – or, better yet, come down the Tattler's offices in the Merchant's District and give the information to us!  We will make certain it goes to the right person, and who knows, it may prove to be a profitable exchange for you!  As always , we are Wide Awake, and searching for All the News that's Fit to Sell!

~ An artist's sketch of the person of interest from Eastgate named "Ross" or "Russ", according to an anonymous eye witness ~

Based on information provided by the eye witness, our own artist was able to contrive an image of what the chief enforcer of this gang of naerdowells might look like:

In other news, more complaints seem to coming from Evergreen Park, in the Green Ridge district of the City, involving a lecherous, cock-eyed turkey, who has been seen harassing and even molesting children and old people who wander the park between the lake and the Rose Shower; Eagle Guard spokesman Captain Viktor Markov says that the authorities are at a loss as to what to do, and have no idea where the tormenting tom came from…



 

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Chapter 8
The Wrong Path?

Following a long and exhaustive battle, the party finally managed to kill all the water bugs and get over to the other side of the black puddle, where they stopped to lick their wounds and rest.

When we next picked up with our adventuring party, they had just completed a long battle with a bunch of giant water bugs – after resting for a bit and healing, they decided to continue on their course to try to find the elusive child killer, Traegar Grimvald.  But it wasn't long before fate and circumstances turned their focus to simple outright survival!

As the group continued down the stone corridor, they could see areas in the walls and floor where the stone had either given way, or was warped and uneven – the group began to worry about the soundness of the stone below their feet.  And in fact, tragedy was just around the corner: as they explored, suddenly there was a huge rumble, and a massive amount of stone and loose rocks and dirt collapsed from the roof above them!  The back part of the party was trapped in the falling debris, with the bulk of the debris falling on the unfortunate cleric of Pharasma, Saben of Garress.  The weight and force of the falling stone was too much for Saben, who perished beneath debris; Cowen the Halfling priest of Desna, was also caught beneath the onslaught of rock and stone, and nearly perished himself – the rest of the group were able to rescue him, but by the time they were able to dig out Saben he was gone.

Heavy-hearted, the group continued forward down the corridor, for it was the only way left to them.  As they continued they noticed significant fissures in the stone floor, some of which were wide enough for them to fall through to the next level – clearly the result of the former cataclysm that sank the Tri Tower Academy ten years previously.  But just when the group thought they’d seen the worst challenge of the day, around the corner came a gelatinous cube!  It slowly squelched its way down the corridor towards them, enveloping and digesting everything organic in its path.  Deciding that battling such a creature was beyond their current skills, and still mourning the loss of their companion, the group decided to use a long rope and squeeze down through the floor fissures below into the bottom level.

Down they went, one at a time, dragging the corpse of their friend behind, landing finally into five foot deep very cold, brackish water.  Almost immediately, they could tell there was movement in the water similar to what they experienced above with the giant water bugs – rather than wait and fight more of them, the group made a bee-line for the nearest high ground.  The narrow, dark beach was rocky, with a bit of sand, and was surrounded by broken natural cavern walls.  An eerie green light emanated from an odd fungus which covered the cavern floor and walls.  Deciding to investigate their surroundings more, and perhaps find out where they were, the group hopped across a ten foot channel (apart from Svala, who fell in and swam to the other side), and began to explore the caves.

It didn’t take long for the party to discover that the caves were not empty; they were attacked by a number of slow, animated bugbear corpses, each of which seemed to have old bite wounds on their necks.  After dispatching a number of these creatures, and resting overnight where more of them stumbled by, it was determined by the group that perhaps they were in over their depth – thus far, no evidence that their quarry had utilized the Drownyard, or its necropolis, to hide in.  The group decided to explore a bit more to see what they could find, before heading back.   They discovered what appeared to be part of the necropolis: there were niches carved out of the caves where burials, or the deteriorated remains of burials, had been left to rot.  The group explored several halls containing a number of niches, most with little more than fragments remained, but every now and then more substantive remains were found. In fact, a number of items were recovered from the halls that they investigated, including:

* A gray silk cloak of resistance hidden in a crypt with a fine clasp

* An elvish mw black knife with a scorpion on the handle named Stinger

Progressing further through the halls, they came across the body of a boy dressed in a school uniform, preserved in a puddle of black water; it was determined that he had a magical ring and necklace, but the decision was made to leave the items with the body and not disturb the boy's final resting place.

Just as the group thought they’d seen it all at this level of the Drownyard, they began to hear an eerie babbling sound coming from down the hall, as if a hundred mad souls were whispering together – it was a fell creature of vile darkness, and all of the party members, aside from Russ, fell victim of its fascinating babble, and stood by helpless.  It was a creature formed from darkness and shadow, with a grinning skull where its head ought to be, with a pair of baleful, hate-filled eyes.  Thinking it had easy meat, the creature attacked the party; Russ bravely fought it off as best he could, allowing time for his companions to shake off their inertia.  Even so, with all the party members roused and fighting, the creature was a difficult opponent, as it was incorporeal and its touch drained wisdom.  Russ was brought very low indeed, and nearly went mad – but fortunately, the combined efforts of the group finally managed to slay the foul creature – later identified as an allip, the spectral undead remains of someone driven to suicide by a madness that afflicted it in life, tragically forever denied the eternal rest of the afterlife.

It was just when the group decided to leave the Drownyard for good when they began to hear another sort of sound emanating from down the hall – and in spite of their recent discovery, decided to investigate.  The sounds, almost like the giggling of a child, seemed to be coming from a half-covered tomb.  Bravely, the group decided to check out the tomb, which was empty, save for the emaciated body of a living human woman.  She wore the tattered remains of a school uniform that no longer fit her, and from her eyes and lack of communication she had clearly gone insane.  She wore a magic ring with a ruby scarab on her right hand, which the party recognized as the ring Ambassador Dacilane’s daughter, Junita, was said to wear.  The group was able to identify the ring, which was a Ring of Sustenance, and quickly understood that the emaciated, crazy woman in the tomb was, in fact, Junita Dacilane, kept alive for 10+ years by the magic of the ring, and driven mad by the deprivation of the allip.

Quickly determining that the party had to leave the Drownyard at once, and return the insane young woman to her family, the party left the complex by the way they came in, digging past the stone hall cave-in just enough for them to crawl out, and thence back to the City of Absalom.  After resting for a while in Russ’s apartment in Eastgate, the party met with the Cheliax ambassador at her home, and affected the unusual, emotional reunion.  Much praise and thanks were given; the Ambassador paid the bounty promised to the party, and inferred that she and her embassy owed them a favor, and then the group split up and retired for a week of much-needed rest.  During this period, it was learned that the killer struck again while they were busy, this time in Westgate.

Previously recovered items include:

* A cloak of protection from chaos, from the closet of a child who's room had been on fire

* 11 scrolls with various spells on them

* A note found in a loose floorboard in a school child's room, accusing the Headmistress of being a Osirion spy.

* iron flask with an elvish tree that refills with good wine 3/day

* Dwarven warhammer covered with runic poetry and pictures of dragons; called Hero's Song, it was mentioned in several Dwarven epic poems written about the Quest for Sky

* Dwarven boots with an unidentified sigil

Dusty pink prism ioun stone, in part of a necklace

* A Snakeskin belt of vigor

Many of these items were later sold by Russ for company funds.  Other items left behind in the Drownyard include:

* A beautiful rug depicting Aroden in battle with Tar-Baphon, at Lake Encarthan, priced at 500gp

* An enchanted necklace with ivory inlays and a blue stone

* A magic candle holder in the shape of a bear claw that automatically lights the candle, and candles burn 3x as long

* A small lute (halfling size) with ivory keys and a bear claw pick in a leather bag

 

  • Called Hero's Song, a very old weapon mentioned in several epics, and is thought to be at the fight for the dwarves to reach the surface
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Chapter 7
Stuff - and Water Bugs!

Chapter 7 began with our intrepid adventurers recovering from an odd fight with a crazy sorcerer and his swarm of spiders.  After finally dispatching the old man, the group ventured into the Tri Tower Academy property to see if they could find a way in, and find out if their objective, the child slayer Traegar Grimvald was actually in residence.  The grounds were dotted with black pools of various sizes, including a huge pool which seemed to swallow up half of the school building itself.  With the intrepid druid Zenari in the lead, the group carefully made their way to a janitorial out building, and discovered that a trap door in the floor lead to a narrow, dark passageway that allowed the maintenance crew to access the school building from below.  The group carefully negotiated the dark, slippery, slime-encrusted stairs down into a narrow stone hallway headed due east underneath the building.

Twenty feet into the passageway the group discovered a large 3 1/2 foot deep puddle blocking the passage; when Zenari went to investigate it, a black four foot long chirping insect leaped out of the dark water onto him!  It was some kind of abnormally-sized water bug, and it tried to sink its fangs into the druid.  Fortunately, he was able to fight it off and kill it.  Upon further inspection it turned out there was an oddly preserved human torso inside the puddle, upon which the water bug had laid its eggs.  The group removed a tattered dark blue silk robe from the torso, covered with black hand prints.

Deciding to try another way, the group left the passage and went back outside to investigate the large pool around the school building.  There they found a corner of the building still on dry land; using several ropes tied together, the group managed to scale the outside of the school and reach the roof.  At the remaining intact tower on the roof, the forced their way in through a window and discover a set of stone stairs leading to a platform with a door; the stair continued up to the next level of the tower, and also down into the building proper.  The group elected to try the door on the platform; after Russ checked for traps, he was able to gain entry into the room.

This room was empty, apart from some wooden furniture, as though it happened to be unoccupied when the great earthquake occurred ten years ago.  The party searched the room, but found little apart from a very nice area hand woven rug, depicting the fallen god Aroden, in an arcane battle with the mad wizard-king <u>Tar Baphon</u> at the Isle of Terror, stuffed inside a wardrobe.  Next, the party went up the stairs to search the two rooms above.  The first room searched turned out to be the bedroom of a young girl, Rhea Thrym, a student from Vladmirr, a coastal town in Iobaria.   A number of nice things were discovered in the room, principally a magic ivory tube necklace and a magic bronze candle holder; some money (100 gp) was discovered below the floor boards, as well as a spell book, along with four low level arcane scrolls, and a three quarters sized decorated lute.  The necklace was ivory inlaid with some kind of blue stone, and was enchanted with the Endure Elements and Mount (3rd level) spells.

The second room above was another bedroom, only this one was mostly destroyed by fire.  The only object of real value was discovered in the back of the half-burned wardrobe: a magical cloak, which turned out to have been enchanted by a Protection Vs Chaos spell.

Going down the stairs to the next level, the party discovered the way was blocked by black water of indeterminate depth; the decision was made to leave the main building and return to the passageway under the school via the janitorial outbuilding.  When the group tried to go outside, they discovered a bunch of rag-clad cultists wandering around the grounds looking for them; after a while, the cultists moved on and the party was able to access the under passage without alerting the enemy.

The group entered the passage again, and proceeded past the area with the puddle, and then found a flooded cross space: the passage continued on the other side of the 60' puddle, which was far wider, and receded into the darkness on either side.  They could clearly see that more of the giant water bugs were infesting the black waters; Zenari determined that the creatures, if they were like the ones he'd encountered in his travel elsewhere, were aggressive when they were hungry, when their eggs or young were threatened, or when their territory was invaded.  To get to the other side of the puddle required the party to invade the creatures' space.  

Cowan decided to risk going across to the other side of the puddle with a rope for the others by utilizing a wooden drawer from the desk in the old janitorial building, and the group fashioned an oar out of broken wood to help him navigate the dark waters across.  Lacking basic seamanship skills, plus the fact that the drawer, while it floated, was hardly built for water travel, the journey for the young halfling would be perilous – and in fact, it was made all the more difficult when Svala, while attempting to give the halfling a helpful push-off with a stick, instead punctured the bottom of the drawer with a critical fail – which meant that the drawer was gaining water, and Cowan had only a few rounds before his jury-rigged craft sank – and exposed him to the giant water bugs in the water!

The intrepid halfing tried as best as he could, but the drawer was not able to make it all the way across the flooded passage before it sank – risking life and limb, he made a huge leap across the void and splashed down right before the dry passage way on the other side!  After that, Cowan was immediately set upon by several of the giant water bugs in the waters, a desperate battle for which he could expect little help from his friends on the other side.  Russ tried to fire his bow at the creatures, but was of little use.   When Saben, Svala, and Zenari all tried to get into the water and cross over to help Cowen, they too were attacked by the ravenous, aggressive water bugs!

Following a long and exhaustive battle, the party finally managed to kill all the water bugs and get over to the other side of the black puddle, where they stopped to lick their wounds and rest.

 

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Chapter 6
The Fellowship Expands Again

Chapter 6 began with the group spending a tense evening in the ruined building in the Precipice Quarter, hiding out from the gang of crazed rag-clad cultists – who, in the early morning hours found them again.  A large group of cultists attacked; Zenari held the stairs while Saben hopped downstairs to split the enemies into two fighting groups, while Svala and Russ attacked where they could.

In the meanwhile, during the battle they were joined by a halfling who dashed into the area, chased by another group of rag-clad cultists.  Russ alerted the halfling, whose name turned out to be Cowan Rictor, and the two fights merged into one.  It took some time, but eventually all of the cultists were killed.

As the group asked about Cowan, it turned out that he and his former group (who are all dead or taken) were given the same task as they were: to find the child-killer Traegar Grimvald.  Cowan and his group were hired by Breyvic Valera and the Guild of Wonders – they were to bring the killer back alive to the Guild, where the Hellknight Jordanne the Purifyer, would accompany him, locked up, to Cheliax, where he would most likely undergo trial, torture, and sacrifice to Asmodeus, the patron god of CheliaxGrimvald was wanted there for the murder of a child who was the nephew of a high ranking priest of Asmodeus.

Valera also told Cowan that Grimvald was an adherent of Berverlax, a nascent demon trying to come into ts own, and that in return for the blood of innocents the demon had imbued Grimvald with certain properties or powers.   He was recently discovered in Absalom by operatives working for the Guild of Wonders, who had him sent to the Brine; from there he was sold by the Salt Cartel to Cheliax, by way of the Last Chance, owned and operated by Gnarl Bonebender.  And Cheliax is where he would have remained (where he is wanted for the murder of a child relative of a priest of Asmodeus), were it not for an unintended escape as the result of a daring raid on the Last Chance by a group of local adventurers.

The Guild of Wonders sent a representative to various slavers in the Coins to let it know that high coin (2,000 gp) would be paid for Grimvald 's re-capture. The slaver Pardu Pildapush was known to have contracted a local group to find the killer, but the Guild wonders if his information is trustworthy, and if he has another agenda in mind.

Armed with new information, and an extra member, the group continued to the Drownyard to look for the elusive child-murderer/cultist.  There they met an odd old man named Deris Marlinchen, a seemingly crazy old coot who was tending dead trees in the Drownyard court.  The group learned that his daughter attended the Tri Towers Academy, which was the name of the school prior to the disaster.  Marlinchen tried to lead them to the main office, where it turned out there were ghosts haunting the building, and he was manipulating them out of his grief and insanity.  He called a swarm of spiders to attack part of the group, and then used magic to attack the rest.  After a serious battle, where Saben almost died, the group finally killed the crazy old man, and that is where the chapter came to an end.

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Chapter 5
To the Drownyard

At the conclusion of the last chapter, it was decided that the Svala will go to the Temple of Pharasma and contract a cleric to accompany them to the Drownyard; in the meantime, Russ and Zenari would go to the Pathfinder Society to get whatever information they had.

Svala went to the Temple of Pharasma in the Ascendant Court and talked to the Oracle, Zenobi.  She agree to allow a younger cleric named Saben of Garess to accompany the group to the Drownyard; he would meet the group in the morning.  Then, Svala went back to the Temple of Calistria to talk to Luna and ask about the priestess whose younger sister was having trouble with a pestering suitor.  Luna introduced Svala to Rosemund Seoni, a fellow priestess, who spoke about her younger sister, Jayne.  Jayne lives in the Ivy District, where she is an artist who works in the Silver Swan Co-op.  Jayne has been stalked by a young man named Jakke who would not leave her alone or take no for an answer, and that lately he'd become more physical with her lately.  Svala promised to 'have a talk' with him, and left to visit the Ivy District.

In the meantime, Russ and Zenari visited the Grand Lodge of the Pathfinder Society, in the Foreign Quarter.  At the Lodge they met up with an older Taldan gentleman, Venture-Captain Ambruance, who told them that the Pathfinder Society got permission to investigate the Drownyard 6 months ago, which ended in failure.  4 members went there, three died, and the fourth went insane and killed himself.  The Society has no notes or maps or any information about what they saw.  He does say that the Society has the key to unlock the iron gate that surrounds the Drownyard.  Ambruance also suggests that it would be a good idea to get permission from the Chelaxi ambassador, Lady Miranda Dacilane, as she is both connected to the Grand Council and is a representative of the conglomerate that owned the Tri Tower Yard.  The Venture-Captain sent a silver raven to set up the meeting for the same evening.

Svala visited the Ivy District and found Jayne Seoni at the Burgundy Wine Terrace, who was being harassed by a young rake with the livery of House Dureanz, who own the Devils Own shipyard, in The Docks area of the city.  Svala stepped in and intimidated the young man so that he left, promising revenge as he went.  Satisfied that Jayne was not safe enough, Svala left the area into the Foreign Quarter, where she met Russ and Zenari, and the three of them went to The Petals to meet the Lady Decilane.  They found he Lady's very ornate house, decorated in high Chelish fashion, and met Mohma, the Lady's silver-inlaid metal construct servant.  The Lady grudgingly gave permission for the group to go to the Drownyard and remove the child murderer, Traegar Grimvald; she also offered 1,000 gp for the group to bring back any information, especially any artifacts, relating to her daughter, Junia, who died when the earthquake destroyed the school.  She showed the group a large painting of her daughter, who had long black hair, green eyes, expensive clothing, and a curious red scarab ring.

The next day, the group rallied at Russ's house then went to the Temple of Pharasma to meet Saben, and together then group entered into the Precipice District to look for Grimvald.  The group wandered the desolate, ruined streets, seeing few humans, most of whom scampered away to hide – until they were ambushed by a group of crazed beggars dressed in rags, who called them 'meat'.  After a bloody battle, the group convened at the second floor of a ruined building nearby.  A check of the dead beggars revealed that they all had a curious scar on the back of their necks, the scar was not something anyone could identify.  The chapter closed with the group hiding out to rest in the ruined building, where Russ noticed a graffiti scrawled in blood on the wall saying 'They're coming".

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