Mysteries of the Nentir Vale

Quit bullywugin' me, bro!

((Hopefully I remembered things well enough. This goes back a few sessions))

Having decided to help the citizens of Harkenwold by removing the Bullywug threat to Tors Hold, and thus freeing up their militia to join the efforts of liberating Harken Keep (now Iron Keep) and Baron Stockmer from the Iron Circle, the Salt Merchants headed west.

Travel was accented by marching songs, but otherwise uneventful. After a short stop in Tors Hold to speak with Bran Torsson and assess the situation (both the bullywug problem, and their openness to trade), it was roughly an additional day’s journey along the White River before following a tributary north. The ground became softer, and the air thicker. Mosquitoes buzzed in their ears and clouds of tiny insects hovered in their path.

The tributary ended at a waterfall, which spilled out of a cavern and down a 10-foot cliff, thick with vines. This, they knew, was the lair of the chieftain of the bullywug clan tormenting the villagers of Tors Hold.

Scroopel deftly and stealthily scrambled up the vines. Taking a quick look around, he signaled to the others to proceed quietly. Tiberius yanked on a vine, testing that it would hold his weight. Satisfied, he nodded to the others, and they all grabbed vines of their own and began to climb. Unfortunately, about halfway up, Tibs’ vine snapped and he crashed to the ground with an awful clatter of armor and curses.

Bulbous bullywug eyes popped up from behind rock outcroppings, followed by loud, gutteral croaking and rough-hewn javelins. Scroopel scrambled for cover and attempted to mount a counter-offensive while the others hauled themselves up the cliff face. They joined the battle in time to divert some of the enemies’ attention from the injured goblin. From a darkened corner came a handful of stirges, but they and the bullywug guards were quickly dispatched.

Scroopels crept deeper into the cavern, which opened into a large chamber, dominated by a dragon skull that had been dragged to the center of the room. Scroopels saw the bullywug hiding in the skull just as the others rounded the corner. Suddenly, javelins and bolts of icy energy rained down on them, catching some of them flat-footed. A pair of grey oozes slid up over the lip of a pit and advanced on them as well. The party systematically cut through the guards while the bullywug chieftain, Gloorpk, harried them with electrically charged clouds of frost and fiery explosions from safely within the dragon skull.

After killing off all of Gloorpk’s guards and gravely wounding him, the bullywug chieftain surrendered in exchange for his treasure. While pilfering the creature’s ill-gotten gains, Erik asked the creature, “If we let you go, you promise to take your clan and leave this place? To stop attacking the villagers?”

The creature nodded and croaked his response, “Yes, masters. Of course. Let me live, and I go. Go far away.” It followed with a toothy grin that Tiberius knew was anything but sincere.

“Liar!” Tiberius called, yanking his sword free. “He won’t stop attacking them. He can’t stop! It’s not in his nature. But lying is!” He drew back his sword.

“Wait!” Shorwyn called. “Don’ kill it! What’s one bullywug going to do? Besides, we could question it.”

“What it will do is bring more of it’s kind to continue murdering innocent civilians! It’s lying and cannot be trusted!” The paladin brought himself to his full height and set his shoulders. “We kill it. It’s the only way to be sure.” He made eye contact with the others in the group. Scroopels looked to Shorwyn, but none challenged him. With a decisive stroke, he severed the creature’s head from it’s body. “It’s done, then.” He said as he slammed his sword back into its scabbard and turned from the group.

No one spoke as they divided up the treasure. The silence was suddenly shattered by a deep croak from outside the cavern. “Apparently it’s not over.” Theon muttered ominously.

They all looked to Erik, who cleared his throat, swallowed, and then croaked a reply. After a tense moment of silence, the reply came. Erik let out a breath that he hadn’t realized he was holding and nodded to the others. “They’re coming.”

Shorwyn crawled into the dragon skull, as the others took up flanking positions and hid themselves. The leader of the group, a hulking bullywug named Uggloor, announces that he has a gift for Gloorpk: A halfling child they captured for the chieftain’s entertainment. Shorwyn urges them to bring the boy closer. When they are in range, he unleashes thunderous blast against Uggloor and his cronies. The rest of the group leaps from their hiding places and makes quick work of the Mud Hides champion and his hunting party, but not before Tiberius is swollowed whole by one of the giant frogs.

After the battle, the party decided to fortify their position in the cavern and spend the night and renew their energy before heading out the next morning. They learn that the halfling boy’s name is Heron, and he was captured by the bullywugs while fishing with his friends. His friends escaped, and he was worried his family might think he was killed. He’s anxious to return home to his clan who is currently camped along the White River. After some deliberation, Tiberius offered to escort the halfling back to his clan while the others returned to Albridge.

They made camp and posted watches at the cave entrance. Shorwyn decided to lay safely encased within the dragon’s skull. As he made himself comfortable, he noticed an inscription carved into the bone. He called Erik over, who identified the text as Infernal: the language of Demons. When translated, the script reads:

She of three lies well preserved
within her Mother’s breast
Bequeath’d by her: reward deserved
to they who end her rest
Dig deep within, with all your might.
Cast down the darkness with the light.

Below the inscription were three strange shapes; which Erik recognized as constellations.

Fortunately, no more bullywugs returned to the cavern, and the Salt Merchants headed out the next morning. Not far from the cavern, they heard a sucking sound, followed by a splash. Theon crept forward while the others hid, and soon locked eyes with a hideous monstrosity. It was 12 feet tall and covered with layers of spiked metal plates, from which dangled all sorts of gore.

The automaton didn’t seem interested in them, and continued its slow plod forward. A straight line of broken vegetation and trampled ground stretched out behind it. Everyone scrambled quietly to get out of the way, and Erik almost tripped over a goblin hiding in the bushes. All at once, a score of goblins burst from the underbrush and up from the muck; bows trained on all of the adventurers they could see. A larger hobgoblin surrounded by wargs took a few steps forward. “This collector belongs to us. Leave or be dead.”

Erik and Theon looked at each other, shrugged, then responded. “Okay.”

Confusion spread through the goblin ranks, and they looked to their leader but did not lower their weapons. “You are not here for the collector?” it asked. The hobgoblin squinted when Eric responded with a casual headshake and a ‘nope, why would we?’. Then it snorted, “Stinking humans been here trying to take what isn’t theirs. If you really don’t want it, then leave. Or we make you dead.”

The group agreed to leave, and cautiously diverted around the goblins, but stayed close enough to watch them for a while. The goblins fanned out in a protective semi-circle behind the collector and melted into the terrain as they assumedly followed it to the caverns they had just left.

That evening, they returned to Tors Hold, where they were warmly welcomed by an emboldened Bran Torsson, who was anxious to reassign as many men as he could from protecting the city from bullywugs to protecting the entire Harkenwold from the Iron Circle. Bran said it would be a few days yet until his men could be assembled, and suggested they go ahead and bring the news to Dar Gremath back at Albridge.

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Poking the Bear

(( The abbreviated version ))

After checking in on, and subsequently rescuing, Gerrad’s friend Ilyana, the tough frontier woman assured them that she and her sons would be all right. The “Salt Merchants” (as they’ve taken to calling themselves) then set out to return to Albridge. Along the way, they stopped to visit the druid Reithan. Ilyana had suggested that they visit the spry old woman, in addition to Dar Gremath who lives in Albridge.

The druid spoke mostly in vague riddles and animal metaphors. But it was clear that she supported the resistance to the Iron Circle, and she suggested that, if the adventurers truly wanted to help they would liberate Tors Hold from the bullywug clan that was harassing them and keeping them from joining their full strength to the resistance. She set them up with some medicinal herbs, and a package for Gerrad.

Upon returning to the hamlet of Albridge, the party came across a pair of citizens in stockades. These were the same citizens whom Tiberius had given some brief weapon training after a brawl in the tavern put a handful of Iron Circle thugs in the ground. When the adventurers tried to talk to them they furiously hushed them and indicated they should move on. Gerrad later informed them that the pair had been caught practicing with weapons, and he had negotiated a lighter punishment from them. Gerrad answered some other questions and admitted apologetically that he had manipulated them for their assistance, which he wasn’t sure they would have otherwise given willingly.

After some long-winded conversation accompanied by some cookies and pipeweed (during which a seemingly small-bladdered goblin made off with a handful of coin from a clay jar in the kitchen), they made their way to Dar Gremath: the burly stablemaster who was also secretly the leader of the small resistance.

Gremath enthusiastically welcomed them into the fold, their prior deeds speaking for them. Wasting no time, he emphasized that they could not defeat the Iron Circle leader, Nazin Redthorn, by a direct assault. Instead, their plan must be to draw him out. He suggested they do what they can to cause enough of a stir that he would have to leave the safety of the Iron Keep’s (as they were now calling it) fortifications in Harken. Gremath gave them some information about a supply caravan traveling from Easthill that would make a good target.

With a day’s head start, they constructed a scene involving a broken wagon and several oil-soaked bales of hay. Catching the caravan guards flat-footed, they ignited the bales and sprung their ambush on the surprised Iron Circle soldiers. Though these were not undisciplined thugs like the ones they fought at The Mallard Inn, they made fairly quick work of the caravan and plundered its treasure (240gp, potion of healing, Cloak of Resistance +1 w/ Iron Circle Emblem (Red)).

After effectively disrupting the Iron Circle’s supply, they headed West to Tors Hold where they met Bran Torsson, eldest son of the adventurer, Tor, who founded Tors Hold. He desperately wants to bring the fight to the Iron Circle, but is stretching his forces thin simply protecting his own. Enlisting the Salt Merchants’ aid, he points them towards the Toadwallow caverns, where the Bullywugs are known to reside.

The cavern entrance is atop a 10-foot-high waterfall which spills down a vine-covered hill and into a stream below. Their attempts to sneak into the cavern are nullified when one of them falls while trying to climb the cliff face. After a short skirmish with some of the humanoid frogs and stirges, they push deeper into the cavern, where an enormous dragon skull dominates the center of the room.

As they creep deeper into the cavern, a deep, guttural croaking sound emanates from within the skull, and a handful of bullywugs leap from the shadows and attack.

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Journey to Durin's Hole

((Ok, long winded, and I know I skimmed some details, but here’s last Thursday’s recap))
((Most important parts are at the end – including some names and a description of the box you found))

River ferry

Hank looked up from his slate at the sound of creaking timbers, punctuated by the steady rhythm of horse hooves. That made 3 wagons for today, and two full barges. The only thing that would have made him happier would be if that Erik kid would pay full price. But he knew that this was an investment that would pay off. He knew it. (At 72, he had earned the right to call virtually anyone who still had all their hair and teeth, “kid”).

There were more than a few strong backs among his passengers this run. All but two, who were obviously battle-hardened veterans of some conflict who jealously guarded the single crate they carried, assisted in loading the crates aboard. Three if you count the goblin, but not for lack of trying.

While they ran the last tallies and finished the final preparations, the lanky one who was the goblin’s apparent keeper, dove between and under the skiffs in an apparent of his swimming prowess – no doubt an attempt to impress the females, he thought.

One of his sons, being closer, was able to see that this man’s life was more closely tied to the waters than his own, and asked him to assist with patching a leak. “Leak?” cried his subservient goblin “Leak!”. The goblin whipped out his little green pickle and proceeded to piss off the side of the boat. The half-elven fish-man reprimanded his little green tagalong before accepting the pot of pitch and dove under.

Three minutes passed. Four. Five. One of the women, who was watching nervously, skirt bunched in her fists, finally broke the increasing silence. “Do you think he’s drowned? Shouldn’t we see if he’s okay?”

A man in spotless, polished armor stood over the leaky spot and pounded on the decking. “ARE YOU OKAY DOWN THERE?” he called. There was a pounding in reply, and the nervous woman jumped a bit. “KNOCK ONCE FOR YES, TWO FOR NO.” A single knock came in reply. They all held their breath, waiting for a second knock that never came when Shorwyn, the slightly greenish hued half-elf burst through the water and back onto the raft.

The rafts shoved off, and the riders exchanged small talk and pleasantries while the ferries ambled slowly upriver.

The children on each raft fixated their attention on one of the passengers. On the smaller of the two rafts, it was Tiberious (or “Tib” to the cool kids). A small boy stood staring at him. “May I touch your armor?” he asked. “Sure, little guy!” Tiberious replied readily. The boy tentatively tapped the gleaming armor, and eyed the broadsword hopefully. “Alright, that’s enough now. Back to your Mum.” The youth scampered off to his mother’s skirt, somewhere between beaming and terrified.

On the other raft another, scruffier youth stared wide-eyed at the gilled half-elf before running off and disappearing among the crates.

Not long afterward, a few noticed a creaking in the timbers, moreso than normal. Shorwyn again dove under the rafts, but noticed nothing unusual. The goblin, Scroopels, tugged on Shorwin’s sleeve. “The boat is slowing down”.

Before anyone could question the reason for the slowdown, there was a great snapping sound as the raft were ripped apart and the sections heaved on swells more suited to oceans, than shallow rivers. The waters around the rafts roiled with swarms of razerfin as the sections rocked and spun, sending passengers and cargo alike towards the deadly waters.

Clouds of birds flowed out from the edge of the Harkenwood, swooping at the passengers in an apparent attempt to disorient them or knock them into the water.

All of this mayhem seemed to be directed by a group of elves, barely visible from the edge of the wood. Another small team of elves emerged from the water, surrounding the section where the well-armed veterans were protecting their crate.

Adventurers and merchants alike struggle to stay aboard the rafts while fending off the flurry of wings. Some work to secure the cargo and lash the rafts, while others leap to the aid of the nameless guardsmen.

With a powerful display of acrobatics, the little goblin, Scroopels, log-rolled a barrel back from the edge before using it to spring himself to the section of raft holding the treasure that was the focus of the elves attention. Flipping and bouncing about like a child’s toy, he darted in and out, striking when the enemy was most distracted.

Meanwhile, the water-breathing elf, Shorwyn, unleashed powerful energies, knocking back armloads of the winged antagonists. The merchant, Erik, joined the fray after pulling himself back aboard the nearest section of raft after being nearly slashed to ribbons by the schools of mad razorfin. Old friends Theon and Tib swatted at the birds while valiantly protecting the remaining passengers and holding the rafts together.

As they moved farther from forest the water began to swirl, forming a maelstrom that would surely engulf the entire section of raft carrying the coveted crate and several brave adventurers. But before it could fully form, Shorwyn dove head-first into the center of the swirling waters, and unleashed a blast of icy elemental energy, freezing the waters fast.

All the while, the raft sections rocked and spun, but continued to march slowly towards their original destination. Farther and farther from the forest they crept. As they began to glide over calm waters, there came a loud, synchronized chanting from the forest. The river gave one final heave, tossing the raft fragments in all directions, and flipping the one with the crate.

Greed, it seems, would ultimately foil the elves’ plans, as the goblin clung desperately to the crate and one of the other rafts, determined to know what was inside.

Now in calmer waters, the remaining crew and adventurers worked to lash together and stabilize the remaining fragments of the raft. While they worked, Scroopels dangled from a short sword wedged beneath the lid of the crate, pulling with all his little green might, until he had managed to pry up the entire lid. He eagerly dove into a sea of sawdust and emerged with a small, ornately carved, black ebony chest.

The glossy surface of the chest is covered in bas-relief carvings of geometrical shapes of all sizes. The chest does not seem to have any discernable lid, or means of opening it. However, no aura of magic can be detected coming from the box itself. The contents, it seems, does give off a weak magical aura, but nothing determinate. The group continue to inspect the chest; some have seen boxes like this that have held objects of religious significance. Typically not valuable monetarily, but extremely valuable for sentimental or ceremonial purposes.

Unable to open the chest, Scroopels held it tight to his person, even sleeping curled up around it as they lazily drifted upstream.

The group is woken by a thud as the rafts strike ground at a fork in the stream. Adding to their bewildered state is a man sitting bareback on a chestnut horse. He is clad in black, oiled-leather armor and wrapped in a splotchy, earthtone cape with the hood drawn up, concealing his face. A wolf or large dog follows obediently, and a hawk is perched on his shoulder. A bow and quiver are clearly visible, and other weapons hint or their presence.

The mysterious rider turns and takes a few steps before circling back – indicating, much the same way an animal would, that he wants them to follow. While Theon and Tib don’t recognize him, they are overcome with their eagerness to be home, and put their trust in the stranger.

Erik recognizes this area, and indicates that the town lies along the left-hand branch, so the rest decide they’ve had enough of mysterious strangers and wild animals and continue the rest of the way by raft.

Despite their attempts at conversation, Tib and Theon are unable to provoke more than brief glances from the mystery man (dubbed “Petey” by Tib).

Eventually they all find their way to Durin’s Hole, and the only Inn in town. Tib and Theon were well into their beverages when the others arrived. They had asked around about their guide and found that his name was Daegin, who was instrumental along with advisor Aderis, in staving off the orc attacks and improving the conditions in the town, and making the mine more profitable.
Before entertaining the miners to earn their meals, Shorwyn also asked about the safety of the trade route. The innkeeper was genuinely astonished that they had been attacked, and by Harken’s Heart no less. Though they were known to be brutal and xenophobic, their power could not extend far beyond the forest and they generally kept to themselves, responding only to direct threats. The innkeeper suggested they speak with Lord Greyhelm, if they had more questions.

They were just settling in and beginning to enjoy some relaxation after such a stressful afternoon when the doors burst open, and a breathless young man yelled, “There’s been… a collapse… in the mine!”

He and the other patrons wasted no time, jumping to their feet and running out, leaving the adventurers and a handful of other bewildered newcomers sitting in an otherwise empty bar.

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Bring on the Night
I couldn't stand another hour of daylight!

The Scions emerge partially victorious from their battle with the young red dragon and promptly decide to explore the remaining “wing” of the Tower of Saruun. Once again, the men all trudge back to the central chamber and enter the purple-colored portal. The portal lead to a cold and sinister place—to which the party has become increasingly familiar: a dimensional pocket which touched upon the Far Realm.

A dead-end passage way greets the party when they first step through the portal, only for a secret sliding wall to be discovered. Facing them where Flamwith and Golithar, fire and earth wizards, respectively, and Mages of Saruun both. Golithar grew the rock-like arms of a stone titan and used them to similar result. The mage allowed himself to be partially surrounded so could use his deadly Earth Shock power which knocked some of the Scions prone and left others dazed (and confused). Flamwith used fiery tendrils that grew out of his fingers to reach out for distant enemies. Although the mages were very powerful, astute strategy on the part of the Scions of Saruun won the day.

Golithar was the first of the two mages to die under the combined attacks of the party. Flamwith, sensing the inevitable, fled through a door to the north. Tangarth Saruun and Minoan gave pursuit. As about half of the Scions entered the chamber, they were treated to a dreadful sight—an eye tyrant. The aberration began speaking to the party in Deep Speech, offering parley.

Minoan became offended when asking the beholder’s name. The alien creature ignored him and tried to continue the negotiation.

When asked by the minotaur barbarian what he preferred to be called, the beholder replied, “You can call me Lord.” The next exchange exacerbated the problem.

SPEAK YOUR NAME,FOR I HAVE TOLD YOU MINE!” Minoan bellowed.

“My name is…Master!” the eye tyrant retorted.

Immediately, the tension in the room grew as Minoan became more and more upset at the officiousness and pretension of the aberrant monster.

As Minoan grew bolder, so, too, did the beholder fill with a burning rage.

YOUR BEASTLY FRIEND IS RUINING THIS PARLEY! REMOVE HIM FROM MY SIGHT, LEST I USE MY POWER TO SLAY YOU ALL!!”

Benn Slouthestryder glanced nervously at Onyx Soulcave. It appeared to them that their minotaur friend (and fervent follower of Torog) had allowed proper sense to elude him. Tangarth regarded the situation cooly—betraying not a single emotion.

The continued bickering caused the beholder to reach his breaking point, attacking Minoan with a bite, then some kind of dominating ray from his eyestalks.

“Stay your weapons! Your friend’s insolence can be tolerated no longer! I wish to continue the parley. I ask that you subdue your friend and remove him from my sight!” the Beholder bellowed.

Benn immediately lashed out at the proud minotaur, but missed! Before anyone could act next, the dominating ray struck the minotaur immediately fled from the room. Tangarth, who had commanded his Bronze Warder to attack the tyrant appeared to be calmed by the disappearance of the bloodthirsty zealot.

“You may speak your terms, then.” Tangarth offered.

The beholder explained that the Great One, whose lair lay in the door leading from his chamber, cast a power spell called a geas on him. This geas bound the monster to forever guard the Great One’s private sanctum. All the beholder needed was a party to slay him, thereby ending the geas and allowing the creature to escape. In exchange for slaying the Great One, the beholder promised to leave the party and allow them to rest and pass through his lair—unmolested. In addition, the monster imparted knowledge of the Great One to the heroes: the Great One was actually a being composed of the original three wizards who rediscovered the Thunderspire Labyrinth and the Seven Pillared Hall. The Mages of Saruun had discovered the secrets of the Bronze Warders and the amulets used to control them. The greedy wizards saw an opportunity to both promote trade with Underdark races and increase their coffers by setting up the highly-controlled outpost in the Seven-Pillared Hall.

As the wizards conacted and dealt with increasingly diverse races of cultures of Underdark denizens, their magical power increased greatly. Some even delved too deep—becoming lost, being captured by hostile, alien creatures and cultures. It was some of this ancient, forbidden knowledge that allowed the founders to transcend natural death and live in a state mirroring undeath. To that end, a phylactery was built and stored somehwere in the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlue to protect the Mages of Saruun from their enemies in closer proximity to Thunderspire Mountain.

The Scions agreed and then returned to the entry chamber for a much needed rest. Minoan returned from beyond the portal, anger at Benn still fresh on his mind.

The next day, the party followed labyrinthine passages and finally ended up in a large chamber. In this large chamber, a withered and twisted looking humanoid held court for several foulspawn beserkers. This was the so-called Great One. Also of note, a small orb where the very air itself appeared to be bunched and compressed marked an area of instability in the fabric of reality, itself.

Minoan was the first one to trigger the hazard—which exploded when he go close, dealing significant damage to the minotaur barbarian. The Great One launched terrifyingly powerful attacks that utilized the warped energy of the Far Realm to inflict damage and confusion on the Scions.

The Foulspawn beserkers charged the party and, in short order, defeated. The Great One fought alone and although he kept dealing blow after blow to the party, it was a battle of attrition. Upon being bloodied, the spirit of the Great One fled the corporeal form of the leader of the Mages of Saruun, undoubtedly on it’s way to the Great One’s phylactery somewhere inside Erelhei-Cinlu, the city of the drow.

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Into the Tower of Saruun

The Scions made it past the challenges of the earth-mote and tower area and chose to explore the the next area, marked with symbols of flame. Upon entering the portal, they discover that this particular area is incredibly hot and that only 1 Bronze Warder managed to make the trip. They are greeted by a welcoming party consisting of Salamanders and Fire Snakes and they make short work of them.

Labyrinthine hallways were discovered past the doors exiting the Salamander courtyard. The party made it’s way through cramped pathways, carved from volcanic rock. At one point, jets of flame bathed the party in purifying fire as they scrambled to move out of the way. Finn Birchcutter eagle-eyes a control panel on the far end of the hallway and manages to disarm the trap before anyone is charred to a crisp.

Eventually, the Scions made it to what seemed as though it was a waiting area, which it was. Three apprentice mages in the midst of a mind-numbingly boring discussion were surprised when Finn walked in. The dimunitive halfling, wearing the stylized human face-mask of the Ordinator Arcanis, confused the three hedge wizards, resulting in a quick melee and the surviving two mages surrendering to the Scions.

Nearby the waiting area a door led to an enormous chamber where one wizard conferred with (presumably) one of the Mages of Saruun. Once again led by Finn, the cowards the party commenced to battle as the “wizard” was revealed to be a mighty red dragon. The other wizard was accompanied by one of the coveted (by Tangarth anyway…) Bronze Warders. Finn immediately jumped into action and scampered up the dragon’s tail climbing onto his back. There, the bravest member of the Scions repeatedly stabbed the beast in the back while struggling to remain steady, as the dragon took flight.

The Mage of Saruun and his warder were subjected to a vicious charge from Minoan—a charge that might’ve been lethal for the warped mage had it not been for the assistance of his bronze construct. Quickly, the Scions surrounded the mage while the dragon struggled to remove the crazed halfling from his back. After repeated attempts to grab him, the dragon was finally successful and, in a rage, threw the halfling down 40 feet into the vaporizing, liquid-hot magma.

Thar chose an unusual but reliable strategy to down the dragon: he used his longbow to rain arrows on the creature while the other members of the party got up close and personal.

Almost defeated, and not having lost control of his bronze warder, the mage’s bodyguard grabs one of Tangarth’s minions and drags him into the lava to clear a path to his teleport circle. The wizard cunningly escapes before the Scions dish out the inevitable. Soon, despite frustrating failures, Tangarth Saruun succeeded in attuning the warder to his amulet. Together with the warders and the party’s heroic efforts, the dragon was slain.

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Battle of the Seven Pillared Hall
the Scions of Saruun take their first step toward the overthrow of the greedy mages

Having returned from the Tomb of Kaldos, the Scions of Saruun return to the Tower of Mystery. All are worn out from the events of the last few days. Discussion soon turns to what the party should do next and the exhausted party soon settles on confronting the Mages of Saruun.

To that end, they must use Kevinneq’s Amulet of Saruun to attune the warders to be controlled by Tangarth Saruun. The Scions enter the Seven Pillared Hall and begin a hasty reconnoiter of the area around the teleport pad that they’ve seen the Mages use. Seeing that the coast is clear, Tangarth makes his first attempt and fails! The bronze warder immediately springs to animation and tramples the hapless sorcerer.

The battle that ensued went very badly for the Scions. Despite his best efforts, Tangarth repeatedly failed to attune the warder, triggering violent reprisal. The other bronze warder soon animates and wreaks havok for the rest of the party. Despite heroic efforts, the party is barely able to scratch the warder’s body. Suddenly, the Ordinator Arcanis appeared, accompanied by yet another warder.

Seeing the Mage of Saruun, the party sprang into action against a foe that they could touch. The Mage was barely able to get off a spell or two before being skewered, hacked and bludgeoned to death. Soon after beating the mage to a pulp, Tangarth finally succeeds in placing one of the warders under his control. In time, one of the others is attuned and the one that accompanied the mage is destroyed.

With no further mage reinforcements, the Scions decide to gain entry into the Tower of Saruun. The party gathers on the rune-inscribed circle while Tangarth utters the amulet’s command word.

Immediately, the Scions find themselves in foyer, of sorts. Seven pillars adorn the room and their are 3 curiously-marked doors leading out. After checking them for traps, the men decide to enter the door marked with flame. A shimmering portal greets them as they open the door. Hesitantly, the Scions enter the portal.

The party finds itself surrounded by earth motes, drifting in the midst of a void. Bridges of stone connect the motes to a larger island on which stands a stone tower.
Replications of the large minotaur statue in the Seven Pillared Hall prove to be traps that throw magical projectiles which injure several party members. Also joining the fight are several bats, which sweep down to attack everyone.

Most of the party flees the battle to the supposed-safety of the tower. Upon entry, more bronze warders were discovered and, ultimately, attuned. When the Scions ascended the staircase to the tower’s upper level, they encountered (presumably) an actual Mage of Saruun. A brief struggle occurs, but, before the Scions can slay him, he teleports away.

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The Labyrinth of Kaldos
the Scions face yet more tests before confronting Kaldos, himself

The Scions of Saruun emerge from their explorations of the recently-revealed Tomb of Kaldos, for the purpose of a recuperative rest. They find many of their companions and followers have set up camp in the midst of the ogre-built huts and minotaur ruins. After settling into camp, the party makes plans for another foray into the tomb, the next day.

The next morning, the crew awakens and prepares to re-enter the tomb. One of the Scions newest followers is a half-orc named Thar, who’d been freed from captivity through the actions of the Scions—back at the duergar slaver caravan. Although Minoan doesn’t approve, Thar is welcomed into the party—which promises to make use of the half-orcs woodsmen and mountaineering skills.

The Scions, most of whom have slept fitfully at best, then discover they are ill from the curse of Barga. Minoan and the others refuse to press on this day, electing rather to take an additional day for rent and recuperation.

After a long delay, the Scions re-enter the Tomb of Kaldos to discover a large room beset with columns rising up through some mysterious and sinister mist. The Scions manage to make progress along the columns; some jumping to their tops and affixing rope as a more efficient method of crossing the gulfs of void between the pillars.

Just as the heroes begin to feel complacent, ghostly bat-like creatures appear, flying through the air to attack! A complex melee erupts as more and more of these “ghost-bats” appear. Eventually, all of the party has either been knocked off the top of the columns are fell to their doom, due to a misfortunate jump.

The Scions discover themselves isolated and awakening from some unknown torpor—and right into the hands of ghostly minotaur torturers who use various and evil devices to demoralize and inflict pain on the hapless crew. Each individual escapes their own torture chamber to find a labyrinth which provides egress from this lower level.

Next, the Scions come to another large room. There, they finally confront Kaldos the Sadistic and his undead guardians. Massive blows are struck by Minoan and arcane energy pours from the fingers of Tangarth Saruun, brutalizing the assemblage of evil. Kaldos is knocked prone by the charge of Minoan—landing a huge charge attack that sends the mummy into the hot coals of an open brazier. The flames envelope the ancient undead. Another of Keldos’s allies, an undead magus continually teleports party member’s into the waiting torture devices along the wall. Again, ghostly minotaur spirits operate the torture equipment. With Kaldos momentarily rendered ineffective, the magus is quickly cut down by charge attacks—once again from Minoan and, this time, the half-orc ranger, Thar. With the threat of the magus eliminated, the Scions return their full attention to Kaldos, who is finally slain,

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Into the Tomb
wherein the Scions come face to face with the past

The Scions of Saruun have defeated the ogres guarding the ancient Tomb of Kaldos and gained entry to the same. A dank and musty sepulchre, adorned with sarcophagi and carved stone is revealed upon the massive doors’ opening. As the party progresses into the tomb, an area of shining black frost is seen. Little thought is given to the innocuous looking phenomenon—until the frost seems to spread out and attack members of the party. As if on cue, the lids of all six sarcophagi slide open. Horned, skeletal minotaurs emerge from them and they rush to attack the heroes. A mummified minotaur, apparently a magus of some type, crawls out of one of the sacrophagi and begins hurling horrific spells. The fight goes well enough until the Scions start damaging the minotaur skeletons and shards of bone explode off the skeletons, catching the party in the midst of their devastations. Several members are knocked unconcious—barely alive at all—and the Mummified Minotaur Magus is defeated first.

After defeating the remaining foes, the Scions reach another small chamber adorned with sarcophagi, including a very regal coffin, standing in which is Barga Saruun, lieutenant of Kaldos, now an undead abomination, guarded by more mummified minotaurs. The Scions discover a trap in the form of ghostly tendrils which reach up from the floor to strike them, draining precious life energy and leaving them frozen in terror. One by one, most of the party succumbs to the trap as Barga and his minions attack. The mummies are reinforced by the spirits of Torogian minotaur warriors who prove to be resilient foes. The party goes on to defeat the forces arrayed against them, but, in his dying moments, Barga Saruun curses them to suffer a slow rotting that threatens to consume them.

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Aftermath
wherein the Scions of Salruun bask in the glory of victory....

The Scions of Saruun have just defeated Miraal of House Xarzax and “freed” Kevinneq from here fane in the Underdark. With the apprentice liberated, the party heads back to the Thunderspire Labyrinth. They soon come across a trade caravan run by Grimmerzhul duergar (who apparently don’t realize that this very group demolished one of their mines) and guarded by a large number of orcs. They immediately notice that several humanoids including minotaurs, svirfneblin, and dwarves are gathered here as well, but not willingly. They sport slave collars and manacles. As is the practice of the duergar, the slaves are up for sale. Immediately, the recently freed Belwar Jokulhaups is angered by such a brutal reminder of his days in bondage. Inexplicably, Minoan enters into negotiations with the duergar merchant towards the purpose of purchasing one or more slaves. Belwar is incensed and can barely restrain himself. As the bartering continues, Belwar loses his shit and throws a cup of ale in the duergar’s face and attacks him with his mighty warpick. Minoan is, to put it mildly, annoyed by the action and such begins a short battle in which the Scions defeat a large number of orcs and duergar and scare the rest off.

One of the enslaved minotaurs named Girthrax, recognizes the Axe of Guftor —sage and historian of the Saruun minotaur clan. He, along with his mate, Maif , are “freed” by Minoan (although it appears that the minotaur barbarian has no plans to let them leave of their own accord). Also rescued are a group of five dwarves from a city called Forgehome, a small number of svirfnebli (most of whom elect to head back to Rockhome, the deep gnome city that is home to Belwar), and a half-orc named Thar.

The Scions return to the Tower of Mystery with their new companions in tow and plot their next move. Here, Girthrax reveals what he knows about the Axe of Gruftor: the giant greataxe is actually a key that opens the tomb of Kaldos—leader of the Torog-worshipping faction of the Saruun Khel minotaurs. The freed slave goes on to inform the party of the location of the tomb—in the nearby Khel Vale, above ground and near Thunderspire Mountain.

After returning to the Seven Pillared Hall to restock their provisions, the Scions, accompanied by Girthrax set out to locate the Tomb of Kaldos. After some arduous climbing, the party reaches a cluster of ruins surrounding a much larger and more ancient building. The ruins are the home of a small group of ogres, which forces the Scions to plan out an approach.

Stealth is the order of the day, so, the group improvises a wooden raft out of deadfall trees and floats down the river that skirts the ruined village. All is well, until Onyx Soulcave blunders into misfortune and alerts the ogres to the party’s presence. A furious melee ensues. Although battered and bleeding, the Scions are successful in both defeating the ogres and gaining entry into the Tomb of Kaldos.

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Confrontation
wherein the Scions of Saruun Khel endeavor to fulfill their part of the deal

The Scions of Saruun Khel have just spent the last couple of days recuperating from their previous delve to the Grimmerzhul Mine. Having secured the Deep Copper from the place, the party develops a scheme to exchange the real ore with fake and give it to Miraal, drow priestess of House Xarzax. To this end, the heroes produce a chunk of regular copper ore and use both luminescent fungi and phosphorescent minerals to give it an authentic aura.

As the Scions progressed to the drow outpost, the passageway they are traversing collapses, depositing them into a natural chute-like worm tunnel which, in turn, deposits them in a small chamber. They are surprised when two Grell float down from the dark ceiling of the chamber and begin their tentacled attacks.

The grell viciously grabbed and lashed at the “men,” leaving them bloodied and some near death! The situation was tense, but the party eventually triumphed when the grell were killed and driven-off, respectively.

The Scions quickly regained their original direction and neared the drow cavern. Again, the found the outpost mostly deserted. They headed straight for the Fane of Miraal which, only a few days before, was the site of a parley by the wizard Morgath. He’d agreed to do the drow’s bidding and steal the deep copper from the Duergar of the Grimmerzhul clan. When it was time for the party to embark on this task, he chose to stay with the drow and Kevvineq so that he might learn the secrets of the amulet’s creation from the apprentice.

Outside of the Fane, the trap was sprung! Two drow, mounted atop wicked Blade Spiders appeared from the darkness to either side of the front of the doors and skewered some of the Sions with devastatingly painful Death Lances. A huge tactical error on the second rider’s part led to him falling prone in front of the skirmish line. Although the tenacious drow warrior stuck Onyx and others with his dagger, the barbarian kept him prone and immobilized him.

Next, 3 swarms of spiders skittered toward the party and proceeded to make movement difficult from some Scions.

Shortly after this, 3 Guardian Demon Abominations charged through the doorway of the temple, followed by Miraal of House Xarzax herself.

Combat paused briefly as Onyx Soulcave produced the fake deep-copper and gave him to the priestess. Seemingly pleased by the news, Miraal offered the party a bargain. The Scions would leave all of their weapons and equipment behind and return to Thunderspire Labyrinth. Rather than aquiesce, the party rededicated themselves to the battle and managed to slay both drow warriors. and began laying into the Guardian demons.

The battle, which had heretofore been in the drow’s favor, shifted to favor the Scions as Minoan charged Miraal, impaling her with his Great Spear.
Despite the horrendous grasping and raking of the Guardian Demons’ tentacle attacks, the rest of the party quickly overwhelmed Miraal, who surrendered to the Scions. She was slain shortly after, regardless. Wil carved into the dead priestess’s chest and tore out her heart. He through it against the wall of the cavern. To prevent her resurrection, the party put her remains to flame.

After looting the Fane of some valuable treasures (including the revealing Miraal’s Journal) and “freeing” Kevinneq, the Scions of Saruun Khel set out to return to the Tower of Mystery, back in the Labyrinth.

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