The Black Cathedral

Adventure Two

Act I: What Writhes Within

Session Eight 06/02/09

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena Tori
Session Total 1455 1805 1580 1505 NPC
Total 33,039 35,122 33,722 34,247 NPC

Cast of characters

I have yet to roll over a 10 for anything Tori has ever done. She pays the price this session. We welcome Hassan back this session; hopefully he can keep showing up as his input and roleplaying are, as always, insightful and interesting.

June 26
The day starts with a drizzly morning. Theena shows up at Talent's new stead, and the three of them head to town on different errands. Tem, Talent's young apprentice, arrives breathless and a little fearful, bearing a message to Talent from Kullen. Talent, unable to read, passes it to Tori, who suggests they convene a meeting to discuss the contents of the note.

It is from the mysterious "S" and invites them to a dinner this evening, unsubtle inferences being made about the party's role in Filge's death. It is not a jump to figure out who "S" is, considering Kullen's involvment. Balabar Smensk. The most recent mine manager to arrive in Diamond Lake over the last decade, and the most avaricious and aggressive of the bunch. The party decides they better go, as Balabar is a powerful man and not one to ignore.

While deciding on how they are going to present themselves, Talent sees the long absent Hasan and he calls him over. Hasan has been away on garrison business with his sister at the nearby Twilight Monastary these last few weeks. Hasan is introduced to Tori, whose introduces herself to him as Victoria. He recognizes her as Victoria Vertigan, relation to the Vertigan family, the most important of whom is the Bishop of Ravensbluff and the surrounding area. He is honored. She recognizes him as well, he of the House of Hawkdragon, a well respected family in the area.

Kesa makes several snide comments alluding to the party's overabundence of healers and suggests they no longer require her company. Talent intervenes on her behalf and is in turn stung by the catty elf. Tori suggests that Hasan need not involve himself with Balabar if he doesn't want to, but he insists on going, if only to escort her. The party makes plans on meeting back at Allustan's in the evening to head over together.

In the meantime, Talent and Kesa head off to buy new clothes and bathe, though not together. Hasan invites Tori for lunch and a stroll before they get ready for the evening. Theena, invited to her first formal dinner, is rivited with the idea of dressing up in a fancy gown. She heads to see what Tidwoad has for sale and finds him eager to sell her last season's fashions at a discount along with a hefty amount of very fine jewelry. She is particularly taken with a fine silvered elven spiderweb hairnet.

That evening they gather at Allustan's, Theena the only one in true fashion, everyone else in new and servicable clothing, but hardly anything fancy. Tori is the only one to wear her armor under her clothes, but they all go armed.

It is a short walk to Smensk's residence, just on the other side of the central square from Allustan's. As they approach the building they see many guards in evidence, but the gate into the walled compound is open, as well as the doors of the mansion house itself. They are met at the door by an ancient goblin with a misshapen head and different size eyes. He escorts them to the dining room, across the marbled foyer. The party notes scratches on the floor and metal plates set into each of the side walls, evidence of the apes Smensk is said to keep. They can hear them hooting from somewhere in the house, but they are not in evidence.

Crumley, the goblin, opens the sliding doors to the dining room, exposing a sumptous feast laid out on a fancy table. Fine silverware, crystalware, and gold platters cover the dark rich glossy finish of the mahogany table. Fresh fruit, bread and fine wines start Theena's long evening of gorging. Balabar Smensk stands at the head of the table, under a huge portrait of himself, looking somewhat silly with his massive gut straining the fine fabrics of his vest. He invites them to sit.

Smensk is polite enough, and initially plays the mourning friend. He gently chides the party for their role in Filge's death and mentions that Filge was in town at his request to investigate a strange cult. The party will have none of it and defend their actions in slaying Filge in his own legal residence on the grounds that he attacked them after they broke in. Plus, they claim, he was a deranged necromancer and defiler of the dead. Smensk agrees that this Filge was certainly not the same Filge he used to know in the good old days and forgives the party.

He insists, however, that they must now continue the investigation. He tells them that there is a cult under the Dourstone mine. He claims that he was taken to a strange underground cathedral and pressured to provide this cult with food and equipment, at rates soon to make him penniless. While he was there and brought before the leader of the cult, a strange faceless being, he managed to filch a jar with a strange green worm, which prompted him to send for his old friend Filge. Recently, he complained to the cult about their arrangment, but woke up a few days ago to find the head of his right-hand man, Mestal Fixx, in his bed. He begs the party to enter the mine and destroy this cult of evil.

The party is skeptical about Smensk's real role in this, but can sense his fear and desperation. Talent pressures Smensk for pay. Theena drives a bargain for a sumptuous meal of garlic roasted quail every week for a year, a price Smensk agrees to readily. To Talent he offers a position in his organization, while he appeals to the crusaders in Tori, Kesa, and Hasan, saying that this cult is a blight on nature and the glory of the Light. The party agrees to look into the matter and dinner comes to an end, far too quickly for Theena, who has made quite a pig of herself, making a mess of her new gown.

Leaving the mansion, Talent sees Kullen eyeing him with a particular fear and hatred. He decides he wants to talk to the orc, but not until he has a chance to get armored. Kesa decides she will tag along and armors herself as well. Tori and Hasan disappear on another walk. Theena heads to Tidwoad's to change and while there is invited for drinks by Tidwoad.

He takes her to the Emporium. Theena has scorned the place since hearing that the red skinned Demon Boy had escaped a couple weeks ago, but now, after seeing the signs advertising Dr. Motte's Gallery of Science, she is intrigued. Tidwoad is happy to escort her down the strange hall. She is facinated and delighted with the displays. At the final exibit, a fortune teller, she begs to have her fortune told. Tidwoad rolls his eyes a bit at the rube, but pays for Mistress Chezebet, heir to the mystical Deck of Many Things, to read her fortune. It starts well enough, but soon Chezebet cannot continue, claiming that the portents are too dire, too dark for her to speak them aloud! Theena insists but Chezebet is reduced to tears for the fate of the poor gnome. The only clear words being
something about an ermine cloak and a litter of fox puppies. Theena bolts for the door and her home, five hours away, leaving Tidwoad in the lurch once again.

Talent and Kesa arrive at the Feral Dog, which is particularly busy tonight. Kullen is behind the bar and snarls when he sees Talent. He tells the boy to get out, but Talent stays, provoking the albino orc to a rage. He attacks, attempting to pummel Talent. Talent attempts to fight back with just his fists at first, but realizes he is overmatched. Kesa tries to decide whether to help Talent or allow the fight to continue one on one. She decides to intervene, to the dismay of Kullen's boys in the corner: Todrik, Rastophan, and Merrovin. They, too, intervene, attempting to pull the shapeshifting girl off Kullen's back. Then Talent draws a knife and the brawl escalates.

Talent and Kesa manage to take out Kullen and Rastophan, non-lethally, but after Kesa falls to the magic of Merrovin, Talent calls for an end to the fight, suprisingly Todrik and Merrovin agree, telling Talent to take Kesa and get out. He is no longer welcome at the Feral Dog.

Talent takes Kesa to his ruined house and "nurses" her to health.

June 27
Kesa awakens in human form, her clothes a bit "disheveled". She eyes Talent suspiciously. Talent plays innocent. He seems truly concerned and confused over the brawl last night and decides he wants to send Kullen a letter to patch things over. He and Kesa head to town to buy ink and paper so he can dictate a note. The first draft is terrible. Around then, Theena returns from her burrow, suspicious of the foxes, but confused that the fortune teller's predictions didn't seem factual. Her input on the next draft does nothing but distract Talent and Kesa, making for another useless draft. Talent decides he needs the expert advice of Tori and sets off to find her.

Tori declines to write the letter for Talent, as it won't be representitive of his feelings and thoughts, but does offer to help, along with both Kesa and Theena. Talent decides to ignore the cheery, but inane ramblings of the gnome, but accepts the aid of the two women. The third draft is slightly better, but still not good enough. Talk turns to how they plan on entering the mines. It is decided that Tori and Talent will continue looking for information, Tori having failed to find anything of use last night, while Kesa takes Theena to a promised lunch.

Before lunch, Kesa heads to Allustan's to question him further about his findings on the temple of Vecna he had mentioned. He is facinated when she mentions that it might be occupied by not one, but three cults; those of Hextor, Eurythnul, and Vecna, information she aquired from Smensk. Allustan furrows his brow and searches through a few books, finally finding the information he half-remembered about a heretical sect made up of all three of those religions called The Ebon Triad. He tells Kesa and Theena, though Theena is busy eating seaseme cakes, that this heretical cult is interested in summoning a strange overgod combining the essences of all three of their gods. Such a summoning, as said to be foretold in the books and scrolls called The Way of the Ebon Triad, heralds an apocalypse such as has not been seen since the scourge, if ever. He offers to investigate some more while Kesa follows through on her promise to take Theena to lunch. She offers to take Theena to the Able Carter Inn, but Theena has developed a taste for sherberts and they end up at the more expensive Rusty Bucket.

Meanwhile, Talent and Tori hit on a jack-pot of information in the form of several disgruntled employees of Ragnolin Dourstone, whose mine they intend to break into. It would seem that Dourstone is not popular in the least with his underpaid workers. They complain that he pays them a pittance and forces them to work in terrible conditions, while keeping his guard force and second-in-commands better paid and in better comfort. It is also whispered that Dourstone was forced to come to the human lands after he collapsed a mine on workers who were rebelling against him back home in the dwarf lands. Talent likes him immediately.

They also learn that there is a strange elevator in the back of the mine that is off-limits for the majority of workers, but that a select group of guards and workers do come and go, though more come than go. Investigating this line they learn that the crazed preacher of St. Cuthbert isn't the only person who is gaining converts in the flophouses and tents of the poor in Diamond Lake. A man known as Yanas Jorl has been drawing converts as well, promising a better life through hard work, sacrifice, and discipline, all tenets of Hextor. Tori tells Talent she is going over to the local flophouse to followup on a lead and will meet him later.

Theena and Kesa spot Tori speaking with a man across the square, near the flophouse (this was her 1 on the Streetwise roll vs. Talent's natural 20). They head into a nearby alley, seemingly not having heard Theena's cheery yell. Three more men follow a few moments later. Kesa decides to spy on them and she and Theena slip up to the front of a nearby building. Kesa asks Theena to wait and transforms into an innocuous rat before slipping into the alley. She sees the first man leaving from the far end of the alley, driving a wagon with a tarp covered bed, while the other three are coming at her, dusting off their hands and talking amoungst themselves about getting a drink. She hides behind a barrel, then gathers Theena. The two rush after the wagon, which is headed out of town to the east. Seeing that the wagon is marked with the Dourstone Mining Company logo, Theena and Kesa attempt to overtake it, but are spotted by the driver, who tries to flee at top speed. Kesa, though having the speed to overtake him, finds herself out of shape to sprint so long and stops, exhausted, to nock and fire an arrow at the driver. She misses him as he enters a copse of woods. Theena, unwinded, but slow catches up to her and they decide to find Talent and tell him what has occured.

Talent, his original plan of entering the mines as converts of Hextor in three days now not immediate enough, suggests they get Hasan and start putting together a wagon to try to enter the mine as a delivery from Smensk.

Session Nine 06/16/09

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena Tori
Session Total 1595 1495 1495 1895 NPC
Total 34,634 36,617 35,217 36,142 NPC

Cast of characters

Talent scrounges up a wagon from Gil, at the Able Carter Inn, and loads it with produce and tools he buys. The party's new plan is for Gil and Talent to pretend to be Smensk's new delivery boys coming to drop off a shipment of goods while the rest of the party hides on the wagon. They decide to attempt entry around dusk, when the guards change from humans to dwarves.

Gil is nervous but excited about the secret mission, and talks incessantly, worrying Talent and Kesa, who is disguised in wolf form, that he will give them away. At the gate to the mine they are stopped but manage to bluff their way through, without Gil giving them away. As Talent and Gil begin unloading, Hasan and Theena exit the wagon unseen. Kesa prowls around the tents of the miners, stealing a few pieces of clothing in an attempt to provide a disguise for her humaniod friends.

Theena, a paragon of her gnomish heritage, slips off unseen and makes her way into the mine ahead of the party. The rest of them stroll across the muddy courtyard, against the tide of miners exiting the mines for the night. Kesa notices that one of the dwarven guards at the gate is looking their way as they pick up tools and enter the mine. Hurriedly, the party makes it way into the mines, but immediately become lost. Kesa hears guards coming up behind them as they press forward. Ahead they can hear the voice of one of the overseers telling a group of miners to keep up their work and make their quota if they wish to be fed. The guards Kesa had heard show up and warn the overseer that intruders might be inside the mine. The overseer leads the guards out to alert the camp.

The party approaches the miners, who turn out to be a coffle of convicts, slaves of the Crown, whom Dourstone has acquired through his contacts in Ravensbluff. At first the convicts are worried they are here to kill them, but the party only want directions, which they are able to get. The passage they want is near the mouth of the mine, a barricaded one they had bypassed. Hoping to create a diversion, the party frees the slaves and follow in their path as the slaves make a break for freedom.

At the barricade they are unable to squeeze through it, and Theena sends her hammer crashing through to the other side on her first swing to destroy it. Quickly, they attempt to break through the barrier, but it stands firm against all their efforts. Kesa, who was standing back as lookout, joins in but they are still unable to break through. As they are deciding to dismantle it instead, the overseer returns with eight dwarven guardsmen and the party is ordered to surrender.

Wisely, they give up without a fight and are taken to the messhall to await Ragnolin's arrival. The slaves they freed are still on the loose and have escaped the compound, drawing off most of the remaining guards and some of the miners. When Ragnolin arrives, Theena blurts out a warning about the cult he has living under his mine. Ragnolin seems unnerved at this and has them escorted off the premises with a warning to his guards to shoot first and ask questions later if they are seen again.

Theena, her hammer still in the mine on the other side of the barrier, attempts to sneak over the pallisade, but is spotted and run off. Soon after, the slaves are returned to the compound, their break for freedom failed. Dejected the party heads to Talent's house to make new plans.

June 28
It is still dark, early in the morning, when Kesa and Theena hear movement outside the house. Kesa wakes Hasan and Talent, while Theena hides herself deeper under the stairs. Kesa moves to cover the door, which bursts open. A strange grey-skinned creature with no eyes stands in the doorway. Kesa burns it, but it charges her with its flint axe. The rest of the party rushes to the fight, another grimlock bursting through the opposite side of the house. During the fight, Kesa steps back towards the stairs and a grimlock assassin, stealthy enough to avoid her detection, begins to garrote her. It seems the party is in trouble, but Hasan and Kesa's faith turn the tide with inspiration. The assassin attempts to escape, but Talent cuts him down after Kesa marks him in Faerie Fire.

While clearing the bodies, they notice ritual scarring and tatoos on the grimlocks marking them as worshippers of Eurythnul.

Session Ten 06/22/09

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena Tori
Session Total 150 4125 4075 4125 NPC
Total 34,784 40,742 39,292 40,267 NPC

Cast of characters

GM Notes
Gratz on 4!

Talent clears the bodies to the outside, taking the time to sever one's head with the thought of showing it to Allustan. This sickens Hasan, who heads to the garrison. Theena crawls back under the stairs to sleep. Kesa heads into town to try to speak with Allustan immediatly, but there is no response to her knocking. Talent has been busy while she was away and has removed the bodies into the woods. They decide to sleep outside since the inside of the house is a bloody mess.

In the morning they wake up groggy and restless. Their night of sleep ruined, they decide to head to town to buy cleaning supplies and speak to Allustan. Theena attempts to get back to sleep, but is too restless, missing her hammer. Kesa and Talent find Allustan outside, looking particularly well-rested, a fact he even comments on.

When shown the head, he recognizes the creature as a foul Grimlock, a creature of the Underdark that is rarely seen on the surface. He is concerned when they tell him that the attack last night may have been prompted by their attempt at entering the mine. He suggests they try to get the garrison involved while he says he will see what his brother can do about it.

Talent decides to approach some of Dourstone's miners to find another way into the mines. After speaking to a particularly helpful fellow and understanding the shift changes a little better, they decide to have the miner smuggle their gear in while they enter the compound as miners. In the meantime, they buy cleaning supplies as well as a new bucket and rope for the broken well and head back to the house.

Theena is gone when they arrive, having finally been overcome with longing for her hammer and heading to the mine to try recovering it. Kesa and Talent await the miner's arrival, wondering where Theena is. After the miner arrives with clothing for them and a sack for Talent's gear (Kesa decides she will polymorph and ride in on Talent as a mouse), they realize that Theena has probably gone off by herself to the mines. Since it is about time for them to go, they head there as well.

Entering the gates is a simple affair, but they overhear guards talking about a new intruder they captured and how she was taken into the mines and has yet to return. Talent, with Kesa in his pocket, heads to the miner's tent to recover his gear, breathing a sigh of relief that the miner held up his end of the bargain and didn't flee with his expensive gear. Both stay diguised as miners and attempt to enter the mine with the shift change. Two of the overseers are standing at the mine entrance, directing workers as they approach, but they are distracted and the pair is able to slip past them without drawing attention.

As they pass the barricade, Kesa can see that it has both been repaired and rebuilt from the day before, leading her to believe that people have passed through it. The pair pushes deeper into the mines where they change in front of a couple miners, after paying them off. Learning that the overseers will be coming around soon, they hurry to the barricade. Hearing someone approaching, they attempt to squeeze through it. Talent makes it easily, but Kesa is stuck for a few moments before Talent is able to yank her through. Just in time as a pair of human guards takes up station in front of the barricade. Soon after, the overseers wander by as well, stopping to question the guards who claim Dourstone set them to watch the blocked entrance.

Kesa and Talent slip away down the passage which twists and turns for a bit, finally ending in a chamber with a wide and deep looking vertical shaft decending from it. Over the shaft dangles a platform with a winch and a couple hundred feet of chain wrapped on it. Boarding it they begin their slow descent into the darkness. It is too dark for even Kesa so Talent lights a sunrod which he wraps to dim its brilliant glow a little.

After about two hundred feet, they arrive in a walled off section of a large open gallery of polished and glistening black marble. As Talent disembarks, he stumbles into a Tiefling guard who recovers first and calls for his backup. Intruders!

Talent and Kesa fight hard but cannnot stop one of the guards from reaching one of the three doors in the gallery, where he bangs on it. No help is immediatly forthcoming however, and they manage to dispatch the guards. During the fight, Talent threw his sunrod into the darker end of the gallery and lost it into a black pool of still water. On one of the three platforms surrounding the pool they find a small basket of offering, but Kesa convinces Talent to leave them for now.

They decide to push on the way the guard was trying to run. As they open the door, Kesa spots a crushed flower on the ground similiar to one Theena would wear in her hair. This gives them hope they are on the right track and they continue to the next door which opens on a large chamber filled with old suits of armor standing against the walls. In the distance, further into the complex, they can hear cheering and shouts. The humid smell of humanity overlaid with a muskier scent greets them as well.

Suddenly, most of the suits of armor begin shambling towards them, bells attached to the armor ringing in a mad cacaphony. Nearby, Theena hears the bells, as does the guard left behind to watch her. He is contemptous of her, underestimating her because of her size, and grabs his helm and halberd leaving her unguarded. While she is alone, she manages to flip over his quiver of quarrels and use them to cut her bonds.

Meanwhile, Kesa and Talent have been fighting a retreating battle into the narrow corridor behind them, overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of skeletons and the long range of the guard's halberd. Theena makes a dramatic entrance into the fray, but badly underestimates the speed of the skeletons, who shred her as she attempts to weave into position in the center of them. She manages to hold them for a few seconds before she falls under their sheer numbers. Talent is overcome as well when he too underestimates the speed of the skeletons and is knocked out attempting to reach the guardsman. The guard calls for Kesa's surrender, telling her she can be his plaything for awhile before she too is cast into the arena like the other girl has been.

Angered she surges forward and releases and blast of frigid air disintegrating the skeleton and flinging the suprised guardsman across the room like a ragdoll. She rushes to help Theena who is but a hairsbreadth from dying, yet again. Getting Talent up as well, they collect themselves and prepare to press on.

Act II: Citadel of Hextor

Session Eleven 07/19/09

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena Tori
Session Total x 3867 3867 3867 NPC
Total 34,784 40,742 39,292 40,267 NPC

Cast of characters

The party hears the roar of the crowd crescendo as their battle ends. Curious, Theena advances towards what must be the entrace to the arena: a large set of bronze double doors. Nearby is another set of open double doors that leads into what must be the lair of a large beast, empty now. Talent starts to pick the lock of another nearby door, this one man-size, forgetting they have recently recovered a skeleton key that might open the lock. Theena can't see well through the cracks at the arena door, but is able to make out a high wall, a statue of some sort, sand, and a large animal.

She hears to fight come to an end, with people beginning to leave after a sermon from a deep-voiced man. Talent has yet to open his door before Theena spots a guard dragging Tori towards the door she is looking through, which suddenly unbolts itself and begins to open!

The trio rushes around the corner, quickly trying to make a plan. Hearing the guards laughing about getting the girl for their pleasure spurs them into attemtping an ambush, now that they know she yet lives. The inital rush quickly downs one guard, but the rest of the citadel quickly responds. The party has an advantage in Theena and the narrow passage, and she is able to hold them back for the most part.

Talent and Kesa grab Tori and run for the elevator, while Theena continues to hold the surging throng of guards, cultists, and their leaders, as well as the dire boar back. It is a close thing, but Theena is able to use her gnomish sneakiness to invisibly break free and close the outer doors before making a break for the elevator.

Mere seconds before the residents are able to overtake them they begin the ascent up the shaft. Kesa is unable to rouse Tori, even with her most potent magicks, bitterly swearing at the stubborn and, to her, ugly girl. Arriving at the top Talent is able to disable the elevator, making sure that it will need serious repairs before further use and the party makes its way out of the mines.

Kesa is determined to recover her bow which she had left in the miner's tent and runs off in wolf form, throwing the camp into a panic. Using the resulting confusion to their advantage, Talent and Theena carry Tori to the nearby wall which the escaping slaves had damaged during their escape attempt, and climb over. Kesa, in elf-form now and with her bow in hand, begins dashing toward the same area of the wall but the accurate crossbow fire from the guards, at Rangolin's orders, almost brings her down. Quickly scaling the wall and muttering an incantation to the spirits for healing, she is again almost downed by the pinpoint accurate crossbow fire, but finally manages to outdistance their range.

The party, excited at having rescued Tori now debate their next course of action. Kesa lobbies to try to reach the wizard, Allustan, while Talent and Theena suggest the garrison, since they are confident the garrison is coming to raid the mines tonight. The garrison idea wins out, especially since Tori requires more healing. On the way, while skirting the town, Talent's young apprentice, Tem, runs out to them with a message from Kullen. Balabar wants to see the party as soon as they come into town, the message says. The party pushes on to the garrison, after paying Tem for his silence in seeing them.

At the garrison, they are permitted entrace to the infirmiry, where Tori is further healed by the aged Father Childramun and Hasan's sister Melinde. They discover that Commander Trask is not planning a raid on Dourstone's mine under pressure from the mine managers and the mayor. The party also learns they are recieving additional scrutiny for their role in the murder of Filch and having rumors of their lack of credibility circulated.

Talent suggests they flee to Ravensbluff as he feels they are soon to be in serious hot-water. Theena and Kesa scoff at this and suggest they all instead flee to the Bronzewood Lodge. It is finally decided that Talent and Kesa will visit Balabar, while Tori, with Melide's help, will try to talk to the Commander, Tollivar Trask, about the cult and their doings. In the meantime, Father Childramun has given them permission to stay in the infirmiry, at least for tonight, where they should be safe from reprisals and grimlock assassins.

Kesa and Talent leave to visit Smensk. They are admitted to his private office where he chews them out for failing to end the cult and dragging the authorities into it. He threatens them, their families, pets, and aquaintances with horrible death if he is forced to flee due to their bungling the job he expected them to be able to handle with ease. They gripe that they are under-equipted for the job, and Smensk offers to equip them, that being cheaper then hiring the assassins to kill them.

They return to the garrison where they find that the Commander has decided that Melinde can accompany the party to determine the truth of the matter. They fall to bickering over what they will ask Smensk for.

Session Twelve 03/05/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena Tori
Session Total 6,57 6,57 6,57 6,57 NPC
Total 4,136 5,118 4,973 5,071 NPC

Cast of characters

GM Notes: we sit down at the table after a year and a half to pickup the adventure! Everyone (miraculously) joins us at the table and the game has been switched from 4e to Fantasycraft. Everyone was kind enough to start with 1st level characters so we could all learn the system, with the promise on my part of getting them back to their earned level ASAP.

The party is awaiting the gear they requested from Smensk, which should take no more than 3 or 4 days. In the meantime, they have decided to lay low and avoid any entanglements with the cultists. They are staying in the woods a few minutes from their house in a hidden camp.

Talent decides to investigate the possibilty of another entrance into the underground cult area and, with Tem's help, finds a cave perched amoung some high cliffs that some kenku (birdmen) assoiciated with the cult seem to use to come and go at night. Kesa slips into town each day to continue her Primordial language training under Allustan. Theena spends her days wandering the forest gathering herbs, spices, and materials for cooking. Hasan, an unknown to the cultists, is free to come and go and spends his days at the Lazare House, the town's Dragonchess parlor.

July 2
It is early morning of the third day when Talent sees smoke rising from the direction of the house. Quickly climbing a nearby tree he determines that it is coming from his house! With a yell to the others he pelts off at a full run. Talent is quick, Kesa less so, Theena even less so, and Hasan the slowest of all. So, strung out over the two minute walking course they arrive at the homestead to find the porch on fire. Talent begins dousing the flames with the bucket from the well and has some success. Kesa arrives, and wetting a blanket she carried from camp, attempts to smother the flames. Theena soon arrives as well, but with neither a blanket nor a bucket, attempts to blow out the fire, meeting with little success. Kesa's wolf companion rushes about howling and barking at the panic.

As Hasan finally breaks through the edge of the woods with the house in sight, Talent gets too close and catches on fire. He freaks out and runs screaming into the clearing around the house where he stops, drops, and begins rolling. Kesa rushes to him, blanket in hand. About the time his fires are doused, a group of the cultist recruits who started this fire to lure the party to them, break the edge of the woods, having heard the party's shouts.

Distracted by Talent, of the party only Kesa is able to react to the first clumsy charge of the recruits. Soon, after the rest of the party joins the fight, it is over, with the cultists driven off, killed, or disabled. Talent, seemingly having learned to fear the flames, lets his house burn, while the other party members are driven back from the flames. Townsfolk arrive but it is too late and everyone stands around watching the house burn. Sheriff Cubbins arrives with a few of his men, and the surviving cultists are arrested for arson. Talent heads off with a slew of girls from the Midnight Salute who feel bad for the lad, much to Kesa's chagrin.

Session Thirteen 03/12/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena Tori
Session Total 1,818 1,818 1,818 1,818 NPC
Total 5,954 6,936 6,791 6,889 NPC

Cast of characters

Everyone (except Talent) heads back to the camp to plan. Obviously, the elevator is working again so they must act against the cult or face further reprisals. Kesa heads off to collect Talent from the brothel while Hassan and Theena remain at the camp cooking up a filling meal for the coming foray. At the Midnight Salute, the madam, an elf herself, makes the girl wait outside and, after a time, Talent joins her, looking much refreshed. She and Talent head off to the garrison to collect Tori and Melinde.

Tori seems in good spirits and is fully healed. Melinde gears up and seems excited to be in the field again. The odd group heads back to camp through town. As they approach the camp, sure that they have not been followed, they can smell the aromas of a fine meal being prepared. At camp, Theena sits entranced by Hassan's efforts which are shaping up to an impressive gourmet meal.

Plans, as such, are made and the meal eaten, along with strong stimulants in the form of tea. Feeling full and a little jazzed they set off after dark to the kenku tunnels Talent found. After some difficult climbing it is found that the cave is narrow and leads to a chimmney of sorts that must descend hundreds of feet. No one is excited about the prospect of a long climb in the dark so a new plan is hatched to sneak into the mine.

Talent and Kesa are able to get the group into the mines and they find that the elevator is indeed again working. Lowering themselves to the cathedral area they give Melinde a tour, asking her if this isn't enough to involve the garrison. She feels, however, that while this is a strange and terrible place, such places are not unusual in this area of cairns and tombs and that while the cult is a foreign religion, aside from the claim by Tori that they tried to sacrifice her in combat against a giant boar, they haven't been accused of any transgressions against the Light.

While examining the strange pool at the far end of the chamber, arrows fly out of the darkness, one narrowly missing Hassan and another glancing off his armor. The party rush the guards who pretend to be panicked and flee back into the Citadel of Hextor. The party, aware that this is probably a trap, still decide to follow. Hassan brutally pummels one of the guards into unconsciousness but the other flees into the arena. Following, the party finds the rest of the guards waiting for them and battle is joined.

It goes from bad to worse when the last of them enters the chamber as the doors magically swing shut and lock and the lights come up, showing the cult leaders above them in the stands: an orc, Garras, his human(?) wife, Kendra, and the cult leader, Theldrick. After such a dramatic entrance by Theldrick, it looks bad for the party as the guards begin to maul them. Their trap sprung, the doors are re-opened, showing that the hall outside is packed with the rest of the temple's inhabitants: Beast, the dire boar; the fantantical recruits; and the remaining armoured skeletons. Melinde and Tori stand fast at the doorway in an attempt to hold the tide back, while Kesa fires past them into the throng of flesh.

Garras climbs down into the fray, but a sudden inspiration of hope for the party finds all the guards dead by the time he does. Theldrick finds his bolts supremely ineffective from the stands and Kendra is overwrought at her husband's battlelust, though is unwilling to attempt the climb herself. Both decide to circle around and assault the party with the recruits from the hall.

Beast charges through the recruits in an attempt to bullrush Melinde out of the entrance, but the young paladin of the Light stands fast, sprawling the boar who proceeds to crush several recruits to death in his flailings. Soon Garras falls, to his own flail no less, at which Kendra goes berserk and leaps down. By the time Theldrick opens the door into the hall he is greeted by the sight of the party mopping up the last of his recruits and skeletons. He surrenders.

Act III: Caverns of Erythnul

Session Fourteen 03/19/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena Tori
Session Total 950 950 950 256 NPC
Total NPC

Cast of characters

A month passes in Diamond Lake as the repercussions of the young adventurers' actions spread like ripples. With Melinde's testimony, Commander Trask is able to override the mine managers and the mayor, and invade the Dourstone mine. The garrison finds the Hextor temple and another door leading into rough caverns, but they are unable to find the third door into the sanctum of Vecna. No further discoveries are made in the caverns as they seem to be abandoned. Rangolin Dourstone himself has vanished; fled or dead no one is sure. Smensk is unhappy with the adventurers but unable to act against them for fear of garrison attention.

Research of Theldrick's journal and the recovery of a seemingly blank scroll occupy much of Kesa's time. Allustan shows them that the scroll is not actually blank but the coded message is too much for even him to decipher.

Kesa spends the rest of her time in the woods gathering herbs and plants for sale, while Theena tries her hand at cooking for a living. Both are moderatly successful. Talent lives large for the month and manages to patch up his relationship with Kullen and his gang of misfits, as well as impress the locals with his success. Hassan spends much of the time at the Lazare House, the town dragonchess parlor, hobnobbing with the elite. Khelleck, the leader of the rival adventuring crew from the Free City, pumps him for information on the mine and any treasures or foes it might hold. The trio attempt a raid of the mine, but after a few unsuccessful forays and trouble with the garrison who have closed it off, they give up and leave for home.

August 2
Even after thoroughly looting the citadel and selling the loot over the last month, the party finds itself running low on cash after expenses, debts, and other sundry expenses so they decide to gear up with climbing kits and head to the kenku chimney to explore a new route into the mines in hopes of bypassing the garrison. It is a grueling climb in the dark, narrow, and twisting chimney, but they arrive safely at the bottom, forgoing exploration of several tight horizontal passages that branch off the descent. They find themselves in the elevator shaft leading to the Black Cathedral. Theena climbs to the platform and lowers it for the party.

In the cathedral, they too cannot find the third door to the Vecna sanctum and they find the second unexplored door closed and locked. The stone key taken from Theldrick opens it however. Beyond are rough caverns with uneven and debris covered floors. Theena lights the way forward and the party advances. The passage winds downwards and opens into a larger cavern, choked with rock formations. Kesa sees the grimlocks before they attack, but everyone esle is taken by suprise. Quickly, the party overwhelms the guards, but not before one is able to flee down another passage. Taking but a moment to catch their breaths, the party pursues, sans Theena, who must go as she has money riding on a dog-fight at the Feral Dog.

The passage once again opens onto a rock formation choked cavern, this one guarded by a kennel-master and his strange dog-like creatures whose howls and frightful appearance almost cause Kesa to flee over a cliff. The fight is harder this time, as the kennel-master is a canny and crafty fighter. Not only that, but two grimlock archers lie in wait on the far side of the shaft, firing on climbers descending.

Wounded and tired, the party decides to loot the corpses and withdraw for now. They decide to just take the elevator out, rather then crawling through the kenku tunnels, and the garrison guards question them but let them go with a warning that the commander will be told about their expedition.

Tidwod's and the general store are the recipiants of much of the junk looted from the grimlocks and the party is pleased to be flush again.

August 3
Talent heads to their secret camp near the ruins of his house in the morning, attempting to sneak up on Kesa in an attempt to spy on her bathing and is successful. The elf girl is not particularly pleased with his behavior but Tem's plantive cries distract them from an arguement. The pair track Tem down, he lost in the woods trying to find their well hidden camp. He tells Talent that men from the garrision are asking around town for him. They decide to head to the fort to find out what is going on.

At the fort they are told to wait in the infirmary while the commander is told of their arrival. Father Childraman greets them warmly and asks after their health and doings. Nearby in the chapel they overhear a soldier being dressed-down by Valkus Dun, the officiating priest of Heironomous at the fort, a spirited and powerful man who seems out of place in the backwater Diamond Lake. He enters the infirmarry and some words are exchanged with the party, but before Talent's mouth can get him in too much trouble, Merrovin, the fort's chief scout, and a friend of the Bronzewood Lodge, arrives with word that the commander will see them now. Valkus declines the invite.

Commander Trask greets them in his office. Melinde is there as well. He wants a report of their doings in the mine and after hearing their findings commisions them to look into the matter further. He assigns Melinde as their liason and tells them to report to her.

Session Fifteen 03/26/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena
Session Total 920 920 1170 920
Total 6,006 6,988 7,093 6,247

Cast of characters

Talent remembers an old aquaintance he used to run messages for as a boy, a goblin forger by the name of Lars. After asking around he learns that the goblin is in a nearby town and tha party decides to track him down to look into deciphering the message found in Theldrick's quarters.

The party decides to walk, making the trip an overnight journey. On the way, during the first day of travel along the fairly well-traveled road, Kesa's wolf companion urinates on a slumbering rootwalker, the notorious Wiltevil who is know for his rampages and hatred of "soft" folk. They send the crazed tree on to the next life, though it is a close battle and Kesa's wolf almost ends up as fertilizer.

Deciding to make camp near the road, they are awoken in the wee hours of the morning by the sounds of a horse walking slowly up the road towards them. It is a magnificent and putupon warhorse. On its back its master seems dead or asleep in the saddle, dressed in full plate with cerimonial banners and markings. Investigating the party awakens the senile and dottering Lord Godfrey, of the Northern Marches, who it appears has lost his way and wandered far from where he is supposed to be. He keeps crying out for his loyal squire who is not in evidence.

Taking the old man with them they begin heading up the road looking for signs of the lost awuire or any other clues. They find a squire's horse wandering the road, also dressed for ceremony but no sign of the rider. Tracking it back, they discover the poor squire, also a bit dottering and senile, stuck in a tree. Rescuing him they take the pair out of their way to High Eyr where they find a tourney in progress.

Theena spends a great deal of her money on candied apples and cotton candy at the fair, while the others do some shopping as well. They deliver the knight and his squire to their camp, easily found due to the heraldry and are thanksed profusely by his grandaughter a powerful and proud woman in her 40's.

The party decides to move on, hoping to make it to their destination by nightfall and they do so. However, once in town, they find that Lars has recently traveled to Diamond Lake. Frustrated the party spends the night before taking the carriage back to Diamond Lake.

They find Lars at Alustan's, he having been invited by the mage to help translate the scroll. Hassan, after looking at the scroll, realizes that he could probably decipher it, as investigation is one of his specialties, but decides to keep quiet about that fact. Lars is particularly taken with Theena and comes on to her. She rebuffs him.

Session Sixteen 04/03/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena
Session Total 1145 1145 1145 1145
Total 8,969 9,565 9,670 8,823

Cast of characters

The party hires Lars, who gives them a discount, but still has expenses. He figures he'll have it cracked within the month. Meanwhile, they decide to investigate the caverns more and head back in.

They find that the iron spikes have been removed from the cliffface, making the descent harder. Talent shows his physical prowess by leaping across to the archer's perch, where he climbs down to the floor. The party spots some movement above them in the fissure, but decide to remain on the cavern floor, passing through a rough tunnel into another shaft. Above them they can see a rope bridge and they decide to head back and climb up. As they turn, starving chokers hidden in the rubble spring to the attack.

After dealing with the slippery and grasping creatures they climb to the ledge and move into the fissure. Inside is a crazed and disheveled looking female grimlock barbarian wielding two wicked looking hand claws. Talent manages to acrobatically move past her to flank and the party makes short work of her, driving her into submission with brutal hammer blows and pummeling. They leave her alive to suffer in humiliation.

Exiting the far side of the fissure they take their first steps along the bridge. Across from them, a group of grimlock guards rush forth and take up defensive positions.

Session Seventeen 04/22/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena
Session Total 2622 2622 2622 2622
Total 11,591 12,187 12,292 11,445

Cast of characters

The party pushes on into the grimlock warren over the dead bodies of the guards. Within they face more guards and their berzerker chieftain, who also becomes a wimpering wreck from the brutal pummeling he sustains. Beyond the chief is the shaman, Grallek Kur, a strange mystic who has sewn perserved beholder eyes to his own face.

On his corpse they find a silver key as well as rambling notes meant for — they can only assume— the Faceless One. It is quite a haul of loot and treasure they take from the warrens.

Act IV: The Maze of Vecna

Session Eighteen 04/29/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena
Session Total 0 1000 1250 750
Total 11,591 13,187 13,542 12,195

Cast of characters
GM Notes: Hassan absent due to illness

The party spends their loot and relaxes. Tem is found, mostly unharmed, though traumatized by some experience he cannot put to words. Theena vanishes during the week. Kesa, after spending an inordinate amount of time with the reclusive bachelor Allustan in "private" lessons, is curious and tracks her to a sylvan grotto where a celebration of Theena is in progress. Kesa learns a little of what it means to be fae.

In town, Talent has a drastic turn of fortune and almost overnight finds himself slapped down from his outrageous lifestyle. He also discovers, from Kullen, that Smensk was most likely behind the death of his parents. Drunk and vowing revenge, he attempts to enter Smensk's compound to finish it. He is intercepted and told that perhaps another way exists to hurt the money-grubbing mine manager. A coalition of mine managers and disgruntled merchants, workers, and loved-ones of those hurt by Smensk exists outside Diamond Lake and would like nothing better then to crush him both financially and physically.

Session Nineteen 05/06/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena
Session Total 2793 2793 2793 2793

Cast of characters

Party enters mines once again. enter Maze of Vecna. Fight Kenku and Dire weasels. Flee after two fights.

Session Twenty 05/14/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena
Session Total 1083 1083 1083 1083

Cast of characters

Party encounters Vor Lachesis and his assassins.

Session Twenty One 05/22/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena
Session Total 300 4416 4416 4416
Total 15,767 21,479 21,834 20,487

Cast of characters

Party enters maze again. Finish birdmen. Strip area of treasure. Return and find secret door leading to temple area. Fight allip and acolytes in fane, then The Faceless One and more acolytes in workshop. Talent driven to the edge of sanity. Faceless One escapes. Party tracks missing Hassan to Church of St. Cuthburt and learn that the priest is the Faceless One.

Session Twenty Two 05/30/11

EXP Awards Hasan Kesa Talent Theena
Session Total 6105 6105 6105 6105
Total 21,872 27,584 27,939 26,592

Cast of characters

The party defeats the Faceless One and his minions in the Church of St. Cuthburt.

August 18 - The next morning Theldrick and the Faceless One are found dead in their cells. The party realizes this means the Ebon Aspect has risen. They confront and defeat it.

On to Adventure Three: Blackwall Keep

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