Shadows of Absalom

Chapter 15
Well, Shoot...

Our heroes marched south to investigate the cave that Brother Nizo recognized from his map – but it took some maneuvering to get to the hill.  There were multiple sets of tracks, including one set which Zenari recognized as belonging to a minotaur.  In addition, in ares where the ridges pinched in together there were roughly 20 foot by 20 foot areas of disturbed, loose soil – unsure of what to make of that, the party wisely avoided them, only to discover later that they were traps set by giant burrowing ants: they found out because it seemed the minotaur killed one of the ants.  This set them on a very round-about path to get to their hill – the even passed what looked to be a small cave at the top of a ridge that they initially wanted to investigate, but decided against it.

When the group finally got to the base of the ridge, they could make out very old stone steps that had been carved into the rock, now overgrown with weeds and covered with dirt.  The carefully ascended the slope until they found an area where it looked like a door might be set into the hill; upon examination, a magic mouth appeared and asked them a riddle about a room without windows or doors – which Brother Nizo correctly guessed was a mushroom.  And so the door was revealed, and the party entered.

It did not take them long to discover that the tomb, or at least the entrance, had been taken over by gnolls; they were able to kill one of the gnolls, but failed to entice the other ones out from their defensive position.  Stuck in a stalemate, the group had to decide to either depart for now, and return to Copperwood, trade in some items for money, and perhaps come back again when the gnolls' guard was down, or stay and deal with the gnolls.  Fortunately, a group of gnolls, aided by an ogre and a 'bipedal wolf' were spotted making their way towards the group, and so the decision was quickly made to leave the tomb.

During a foray outside of the tomb, Russ climbed to the top of the ridge with the other hill, and was attacked by a large spider, which bit him and poisoned his blood.

The group made it back to Copperwood, and were able to trade in some stuff, but during this period Russ began to exhibit signs of being highly inebriated, and then sick, which greatly alarmed the others in the party – in fact, Karla accused Russ of being a drug addict, and many questions raised and accusations flung.  Russ tried to convince the apothecary owner, Cirhann Slovak, to allow him to utilize his laboratory so he could learn more about the mushrooms given to him by the halfling brothers, Ink and Stink.  However, because Russ refused to tell the apothecary owner what he was doing, the man refused to help.

In addition, the group went to the Silver hammer to see if they could purchase any silvered weapons; unfortunately, the proprietor, Jahn Simons, did not have any silvered weapons, and was not a silversmith – he could only do simple iron tools, and he suggested the party make the trip back to Absalom to find either silver weapons or someone with the skills and talent to ensilver a weapon themselves.  They also asked Silanus Fiore, the cleric at the temple of Iomedae, to start getting the children of any family he could into the temple so the group could protect them better.

Russ had become highly agitated by this time, and told the group he wanted to go back to Absalom for a couple of days so he could access his alchemy lab, which he wanted to use to learn more about Ink and Stink's mushrooms, but a disagreement broke out among the party; no one else wanted to go back to Absalom, but Brother Nizo volunteered to accompany Russ, so that he would be safe, and also to keep an eye on him.  Meanwhile, the others would stay in Copperwood and try to find out what they could.

The group decided to go to the Viper's Nest, to see what could be found there.  They enjoyed some Viper Bites, and listened to a talented, though odd, halfling bard perform with a pair of sentient, instrument-playing squirrels – the act was billed Rikky Tikki and the Tavies.  Russ asked about the goblin lurker known as Pavek, but he was not known.

The group was last discussing the idea of going up into the second floor of the Viper's Nest, which is where the games of chance, and supposedly the 'professional ladies', were kept.

 

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Chapter 14 Loot


From the battle against the gnolls (not well equiped gnolls):
    bracers (magic)
        +1 armor class
        
    3 scrolls
        
    
    shaman had
        - 100gp of jewels and feathers and stuff
        
    74gp 50 sp

    12 gems – 120gp for all of them


Inside the gnolls cave
    - in a vial holder with liquid inside of it
        - potion of fly
        - unsure of the caster level
        - svala took
    
    - pair of human shoes (finely crafted leather) (for smaller feet)
        - purple suede with some nice embroidery
        - "Side Step" in ancient elven
        - Nizo took it
        
    - 350gp 500sp
        
        -87gp 125gp went to each person
        
        (2 gp left over)
        
    
ivory teeth necklace worth 200gp
    - copper kettle worth 20gp
    
    - healing kit (4 applications left) (zenari)
    
    - Contact poison
        - black, smells nasty
        - the shaman had it
        
        
        
Inside the paradon cave

    14 small purple gems 25gp a piece

    
    potion
        - cure light wounds
    
    very nice dagger
        - +2 dagger
        - Russ
    
    cat mask
        - +2 stealth and low light vision

 

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Chapter 14
The Man in the Hills

Not wanting to leave enemies that might attack them later, or perhaps because they thought that the creatures were the culprits the group had been seeking all along, the party chased after the perytons to their cave, seen way up in a ridge of scrubby hills between the Spire of Nex and Copperwood.  As they traveled towards the cave, a mysterious man in armor stepped out to meet them – he called himself Brother Nizo, and he wore the holy symbol of Iomedae on his chest like an emblem.  After some discussion, and perhaps a bit of paranoia, the party agreed to bringing him along, at least as far as the peryton cave.

Brother Nizo had been with a smaller party, wandering the hills in search of a special cave with a map from a now-dead mage – dead because he'd ben swooped up and killed by something which sounded similar to what the party was seeking.  While he had not gotten a look at whatever the flying creature was, Brother Nizo had seen a flash in the sky of some kind of magic, followed by the mage's plunge to his death; since then, the priest had been wandering the hills in search of whatever cave the mage had sought on his map.

The party tracked the peryton's back to their cave high above; however, it would be a difficult climb, and they would be exposed to attack, so the group decided to go around the ridge and find another way up to the cave.  After going south about a quarter of a mile along a ridge, they came upon a group of gnolls on patrol, and decided to ambush them.  It was a difficult battle, especially given the gnolls are excellent hill fighters; even as tey engaged the patrol, reinforcements came for the gnolls, including a shaman and his pet dire hyena.  The fight was just beginning to look bad for the party when Svala, who had been distracted gathering flowers, reappeared, and the tide of battle turned!

The slain gnolls were looted, as was their lair, and a fair amount of booty was recovered.  Then, the group was able to scale the hill from the back side of the peryton cave.  After resting and recuperating, the group climbed to the top of the hill, and made for the peryton cave at a run; one peryton circling above spotted them and attacked, with several others.  Even so, the group was able to slay the foul sky creatures; Brother Nizo climbed down with a rope from the top of the hill and make it into the peryton cave, where he killed a number of peryton hatchlings.  While there were remains present, it did not appear to be the creatures that had abducted the missing Copperwood people.  The party did claim a number of items from the peryton cave as well, and once back on top of the hill, Brother Nizo looked west and saw a shape which he thought might be on the scholar's map: Kelok's Tomb.

Now the party has decided to hike over to the next ridge and find the cave, and perhaps the answers to what sort of creature has been deviling Copperwood.

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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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