Ascendants Rising - A Forgotten Realms Campaign

25 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

Set out from Graythicket Village this morning.

After walking through the Semberholme forest to Keegan’s Keep, collected our horses and wagon and began the return trip to Winterhaven along the Old Sessrenglade Road.

Had barely made our way along the road when we spotted kobolds crossing the road ahead. Flew at them on horseback and attacked. Turned out to be no less than a dozen kobolds who were following a Young Green Dragon! Fought pitched battle with the kobolds and dragon, but emerged victorious; slaying the dragon. Zekknar thought that perhaps the dragon had been drawn to the Feywild portal that Orva the gnome had come through.

Dragonbattle

Found the following on the kobolds, we assumed it was the dragons burgeoning hoard:

Packed the dragon’s corpose onto the wagon as best we could and made our way back to Winterhaven.

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24 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

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Asked Luthen about Orva the gnome. He said he as not aware of the gnome.

Turien Graythicket – Elven leader of the Graythicket Village.

Met with Turien in the village festhall, built among the branches of four gigantic oak trees. Turien expressed his gratitude. He swore that the villagers of Graythicket owed the party a great deal for their valor, and they would seek to repay them in any way they could. That the party could look up on them as allies.

The party stayed as guests of the Graythicket elves for the night, and slept in their tree homes.

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23 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

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The morning of the 23rd, Zach Dennorson (stablehand) comes calling to the tower. He tells us that a wood elf named Luthen Graythicket wished to speak with the party, and awaited them in the market square.

Luthan Graythicket begged for our aid. He needed help with a fey beast; an owlbear, that had been ravaging his village. The lair of the owbear was a half days ride beyond Keegan’s keep, to the northeast.

Four groups of adventurers had been slain by the Owlbear. Luthan himself had been living abroad when the call came from his village. His own adventuring company, calling themselves “The Shevverim” were the first to assault the owlbear. All but Luthan and a couple of his comrades were slain. Luthan’s friends abandoned him afterwards, but the elf was determined to save his people. He travelled through Highmoon asking for aid, and leaving word for any adventurer’s to seek him out. Then he made his way to Archenbridge. There, he ran into a group of kenku mercenaries, who said their flock lived in the hills beyond Archenbridge. They also were killed by the owlbear. Later, after the word he had left in Highmoon had spread, two more adventuring companies answered the call. They too died fighting the owlbear.

Another adventurer had answered Luthan’s call in Highmoon. He accompanied Luthan to Winterhaven and joined us when we agreed to help the wood elf. He carries a large shield, a spear, and names himself Reardon.

Spoke with Padraig and received his blessing before departing.

Left wagon and horses at Keegan’s keep.

Arrived at the location Luthan described as the glade wherein the cave of the owlbear lies. Found Orva, a gnome maiden in a tree.

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Suddenly the owlbear attacked and during battle, we were ambushed by Kenkus. (Probably the kenkus Luthen found in Archenbridge). The kenkus had apparently found and tamed a cockatrice, which one of the bird men had tied to a leash. The owlbear was a might foe, and nearly ripped Koji’s head from his shoulders if not for the monk’s extraordinary agility. In the end, we destroyed the owlbear and defeated the kenku.

Orva said she was from the feywild and was trying to find the portal back. We told her about our tower in Winterhaven, its vast library, and said she should visit; after she had found the portal and figured out how to activate it. After Zekknar spoke to her of his shared interest in all things arcane, she agreed to reveal the location of the portal before she returned to the Feywild.

We then went back and found Luthan with the wagon in clearing.

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22 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

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Investigate Valthrun’s Tower. Discover that the sage activated an Animated Statue to guard the tower in his absence.

We fight the Animated Statue both within and without Valthrun’s Tower and it is destroyed in battle, while Padraig and several villagers look on. Padraig warns that there may be an identical statue on the 2nd floor.

The statue on the 2nd floor is merely a statue, but Valthrun had apparently bound two otherworldly beings to defend this room. Zekknar says they are “Mindbender’s”. After a trying fight, the Mindbender’s are destroyed and the 2nd floor is clear. This floor appears to be a library.

The third floor was warded by a Glyph of Warding, at least that’s what Zekknar calls it, but Koji was too fast for it!

Fourth floor was not trapped, and not guarded. Houses a very extensive laboratory.

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Revovered the following from the lab:

  • Starlight Goggles
  • Polyglot Gem
  • 3 Potion’s of Healing
  • Elixir of Dragon’s Breath
  • 3 casks of Iraboren Northbrew
  • 6 casks of Suzale
  • Top shelf, known as Purple Dragon Ale.
  • Brewed for Suzale royalty
  • Row upon row Westgate Ruby wine

Stabled the wagon.

Held meeting with Padraig. After much deliberation we assumed control of the Tower.

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21 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

Return to Winterhaven!

Hear of what happened in the party’s absence, notably the tragic events of 17 Kythorn.

Lord Padraig notes that one of his men was injured and thrown from Valthrun’s Tower when sent to secure it on 18 Kythorn. Padraig ordered the tower shut and guarded night and day to protect village against unknown threat.

Party spends the night in the Temple of Chauntea in Thunt’s room.

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20 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

Retraced our steps on 2nd and 3rd level to loot corpses and ensure that threat is ended. Find the hobgoblin commander’s room and a couple letters from Kalarel ordering the hobgoblins to attack Winterhaven and take prisoner’s for sacrifice to Shar and Shadraxil. Presumably that’s who the priest had sacrificed on the 3rd level, and that’s where all the blood came from on level 4. Thunt is worried at how many of his people were taken and killed. Find Catstep Boots.

Find Horned Helm and Executioner’s Bracers on corpses.

Investigate last unknown section of dungeon. Fight Gelatinous Cube. Find Dwarven Chainmail +2 encased within the mass of the jelly.

Find what appears to be the tomb of Keegan’s children. Fight two Corruption Corpses. Find Onyx Dog and Selune’s Bracelets amongst other items that appeared to have belonged to the children.

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19 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

Finally, after many days beneath the ruins of Shadowfell Keep, the party had reached their goal.

Shadowfell

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Kalarel, Scion of Shar, had nearly completed the ritual when the group attacked. His underpriest, mesmerized into leaping into the well above, was trying desperately to warn his master that your arrival was imminent. But so engrossed was Kalarel in the summoning of Shadraxil, so close was he to his ultimate goal; that he didn’t react to your presence until you’d crawled down the chains and stood in the room itself. When Kalarel had finally accepted the fact that he was going to have to stop the ritual and destroy you before he could safely proceed, only then did he order his minions to attack.

Through the theurgy of his Spidersilk Mantle, Koji had empowered himself with the ability to crawl upon the walls, even the ceiling, with the ease and speed of a spider. When the battle begain, he leapt from the ceiling, and sprang upon the wounded underpriest. The priest was standing not only before Kalarel himself, but amongst many of his skeletal minions. The courageous monk knew he had once again risked much to leap in amongst an enemy that would surround him almost immediately, but he did so without hesitation. The underpriest was a dangerous foe, having nearly killed Zekknar in their earlier encounter (in the temple above). But the underpriest had suffered grave wounds in that exchange, not least of which was the fall to this very room when Zekknar’s Hypnotism spell compelled him to leap into the well above. Surely he must be near death? The Sun Soul monk floated down from the ceiling and delivered a crushing strike to the priests throat. Kalarel’s acolyte died at his feet, suffocating behind a ruptured windpipe, writhing in pain.

The rest of the party surged forward, fighting their way towards Kalarel and the surrounded monk.

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Talon roared a battle cry to Torm, and charged into the fray. Kalarel’s skeletal minions were no match for the guardian knight, and soon the short stairway leading the priests altar were littered with bones. Climbing the last steps, taking up position beside Koji, the Hand of Justice confronted Shar’s Scion.

Meanwhile, Zekknar and Thunt were fighting their way through what remained of the skeletal army, taking fire from Kalarel’s lieutenant; a Deathlock Wight. The undead necromancer waded into the pool of blood in the center of the room, and from this gruesome position he unleashed bolt after necrotic bolt of grim theurgy.

Sensing the magic circle’s evil potency, and surmising that it was the lynchpin to the ritual’s success, Zekknar brought to bear his arcane might, dispelling a fraction of the circle’s power!

Encouraged by the eladrin wizard’s insight, Talon invoked the name of his god; Torm! And the Loyal Fury answered. With each battle cry to the god of law and righteousness, it seemed as though the potency of the circle diminished more and more.

But something just doesn’t feel right. Kalarel, even in the face of your might, seems unperturbed. His disdain is unnerving. Is he holding back? Has he shown you the extent of his power? Is this a trap? Is he waiting for his undead lieutenant to enter the fray? And what of the Thing in the Portal?

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19 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One

After resting in the Secret Armory (once again), the party set out to stop Kalarel from summoning Shadraxil the Shadow Dragon through the gate to the Shadowfell.

As with practically every sortie you’ve made to the 2nd level of the ancient keep’s dungeons, you quickly had a fight on your hands. This time, you made it all the way to the site of the previous session’s battle: the Ghoul Room (to whom Thunt lost an eye), with its stairway leading to the 3rd level. As an acolyte of Chauntea, the Earth Mother, it pained Thunt the Cleric to leave the two bodies the ghoul had been feeding on, without performing the necessary rituals to put their souls to rest, so Zekknar and Koji took up posts to watch for denizens of the dungeon, while Thunt did the Earth Mother’s good work.

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Unfortunately, not long into the ritual, Zekknar spotted a force of hobgoblins approaching from the Statue Trap Room. The group quickly ducked into hiding, to see what the hobgoblins did, and take any tactical advantage they could if combat seemed prudent. As they approached, you couldn’t help but wonder at how the hobgoblins were practically right on your tail. Perhaps they were lying in wait? Maybe a scout had warned them of your passage? It seemed too large a group for a random patrol, and they were clearly looking for someone or something; you can only assume it was you. Not surprising, considering you’d practically raided this level nearly a half dozen times.

Even though the hobgoblins had considerable numbers, the felt the time was right for an ambush. As it turned out, either by chance or by design, they couldn’t have chosen better ground for a fight. The hobgoblins numbers were tightly packed in a ‘Y’ branched corridor, allowing not only for maximum Area-of-Effect attacks, but also offering you a chance to attack from two sides.

Zekknar’s spells wreaked havoc on the hobgoblin forces. The mage has a deep arsenal of arcane might at his disposal, and he chose to open the fight with a spell he hadn’t used before: Color Spray.

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18 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (Part 2)
Finally the group was able to get in an Extended Rest. The party had been harried and attacked not once but twice in their previous attempts at getting some rest. Most had used almost all their most potent Powers (their Daily Powers) in the first big fight, so the second battle got pretty hairy using only At-Will and Encounter Powers, culminating in a near death experience for Koji the Monk (he was down to 3 HP's with no way of getting healed).

This time the party retreated to a location within the dungeon that they felt would give them a much better chance of respite: the Secret Armory. It would have taken extraordinary luck on the part of the hobgoblin patrols (doubtless searching the dungeon for the party after so much mayhem) to not only find the secret door leading to this room, but to then also figure out that the eastern wall within was actually an illusion, and that the party was on the other side.

Eladrin do no sleep. Instead, they enter a meditative state they call the trance. While in the trance, Eladrin are fully aware of their surroundings and can become fully alert in seconds. And so, as usual, Zekknar assumed guard duties while the other slept.

How Zekknar managed to trance after bearing witness to Thunt preparing to bed down for the night is anyone’s guess. The group was “surprised” (horrified) to learn that Thunt prefers “the feel of the Earth Mother’s blessing on his skin” when he sleeps. All of his skin. shudder Let’s just say the sight of a naked and disturbingly hairy dwarf bending over to spread his bedroll out (thank god that’s not a euphemism) is a sight that will haunt Zekknar and Koji’s nightmares for weeks to come.

After an uneventful rest, the party, determined as ever to reach Kalarel and stop him from completing his ritual to summon the shadow dragon Shadraxil from its pocket plane of the Shadowfel, made their way back to the stairs leading to the 2nd level.

Koji stealthily scouted out the Hobgoblin Guard Room and discovered two hobgoblin grunts guarding the room that had been the scene for no less that three deadly encounters. The grunts standing across the room, in front of the door to one of the barracks rooms. You would later discover that the hobgoblins had temporarily disposed of the bodies from the last battle in this room.

With the guards still unaware that Koji had spotted them from the shadows of the stairway, the Monk silently padded back up the stairs to Zekknar and Thunt, who had remained further back so as not to reveal their position. Thunt felt confident that he could sneak just as well as anybody in the group, using what has come to be called “Dorf Stealth”, but the others weren’t so sure that was a good idea. As far as Koji and Zekknar could tell, “Dorf Stealth” seemed to mostly involve a great deal of jingling chain mail, clomping boots, and regularly thumping your shield into whatever is at hand at any given moment (like your knees, your warhammer, the wall, what-have-you).

From further up the stairs (well outside “Dorf Stealth” range), the party put together a plan of attack. Their primary concern: making sure neither guard would be able to flee the room and call for reinforcements. And the plan worked brilliantly!

Table2

The elves ability to move silently is legendary, and so the Eladrin mage Zekknar joined Koji, as the barefoot monk stealthily worked his way back down the stairs. Once in position with Koji within the shadows near the end of the stairs, Zekknar used a simple cantrip he had learned as a student in Myth Drannor to create a noise coming from the well in the center of the room. When the guards came to investigate, the mage then Hypnotised one of feebleminded brutes and commanded it to jump into the waiting arms of the party’s old friend… the well. Moments later, Koji sprang from his position on the stairs, sprinted across the room, leapt into the air, and delivered a devastating kick to the remaining (and completely surprised) guard. The hobgoblin grunt was dead before he hit the floor.

Somebody, presumably more hobgoblins, had clearly discovered the dead bodies from the last battle and dragged them into an adjoining room (to be properly disposed of later?), the party moved further into the dungeon. The near half dozen hobgoblins (and one bubgear) that had fallen victims to Zekknar’s mesmerizing gaze and flung themselves down the well were still there, though it’s unclear wether the hobgoblins knew that. Opting not to search any of the bodies, instead fearing an imminent attack, the group moved on.

Further into the dungeon, the party discovered a barracks area. Judging from the flagons, mugs, and plates on the tables in the chow room, as many as a half dozen or more humanoids had been using the area recently. A well stocked supply room nearby looked as though it could support dozens of humanoids for at least a month. But the interconnected rooms were all empty.

The party then left the barracks area to investigate a room down a hallway to the south. As Koji silently crept down the hall to scout out a room no more than 50’ down the passage, he failed to notice a misaligned stone in the floor that turned out to be the trigger for a portcullis that slammed down to block the entrance to the room he’d been approaching. From this side of the portcullis, they could see a large table in the room beyond, but not much else.

The bars weren’t reinforced well, and it was thought that they could possibly be bent, allowing room to squeeze through; but the group instead felt it would be wiser to lift the portcullis and wedge it into place. Unfortunately, they couldn’t lift it: it wouldn’t budge. Thinking that perhaps there was another route into the room beyond, they backtracked to look for an alternate route.

While trying to find another way into the room beyond the portcullis, the party wandered into a large, dark room with 30’ high vaulted ceilings. Near the center of the room was a giant statue of a warrior wearing plate armor, wielding a sword. In the northeast and southeast corners; statues of dragons on 10×10 platforms. To the south: an short passageway with vases of cherubs holding pitchers.

Every statue turned out to be traps. The giant warrior statue could swivel at the waist, and at the shoulder of its sword arm, and demonstated as much (to good effect) on Thunt when first approached. The dragon statues emitted waves of forces when anyone came near. Waves of force designed to push invaders and knock them off their feet within reach of the giant warrior statue.

Table1

The short passage to the south was deadliest of all. While trying to get out of range of the southeastern dragon statue, Koji sprinted into the alcove. As soon as he passed between the first two cherub vases, walls of force slammed down over the entrance of the hallway and the double doors to the south. Then the cherub vases came to life, if only for a few seconds. They tipped forward their pitchers, and water with the force of an aqueduct began to gush forth from all four statues. The monk was trapped in the tiny, water-tight hallway, and the water was rising.

A couple rounds later, finding no way to escape the hallway, just as panic began to sink in, water level already to his knees, the monk attempted to turn one of the vases and redirect the flow of water towards one of the walls of force. While he was unable to turn the small statue, he did manage to crack the pitcher, and jets of water shot through the break. lighbulb!

Next round, as the water was rising to nearly three feet, Koji launched a sidekick at the nearest vase, shattering it. The water enchantment from that vase ended, and the water with it. But there were still three more to go.

By this time, Thunt had reached the hallway. Separated from his friend by the arcane barrier, the Chauntean Cleric tried desperately to devise a way in which he could help his trapped friend.

Meanwhile Zekknar, having divined the nature of the mystical symbols carved upon the dragon statues in the room without, had nimbly leapt upon the statue to the southeast and was working frantically at effacing the markings. The elven mage’s desperate hope was that the runs were somehow tied to the power of the walls of force.

The following round, just as Koji was about to surge across the room and destroy the next vase, a powerful whirlpool formed in the center of the hallway! In seconds, the magically driven maelstrom was at full pitch, savagely twisting and driving the water throughout the room with staggering force. Koji was in trouble. He needed to reach the far end of the hallway to break the last two statues, but the force of the water Slowed movement to half. Koji’s Speed is 6, reduced to 3 by the Slow effect, and the closes statue was 4 squares away. But the redoubtable monk had trained long under the tutelage of ((insert missing backstory here)) in the city of ((insert missing backstory here)). Even now, Koji could hear the words of his Master, as he lectured to him on the fundamental’s of the Crane’s Wings Movement Technique: “Air is as real as you and me. You may step on it as if it were a stone, swim through it as if it were the sea. All you have to do is believe.” And with that, Koji suddenly sprang from his perch on the vases pedastal. More floated than leapt. Across the room to the next statue, his foot lightly slapping the chaotic vortex below just once—twice; as if to help bouy his feathered flight to the far vase. With the help of his Master’s technique and his teachings, the monk was able to shatter the last two vases.

The moment the last vase was destroyed, the walls of force dropped, the whirlpool subsided, and Thunt hurriedly ducked back behind the corner as the water from within spilled into the room.

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17 Kythorn, 1479 - The Year of the Ageless One (Part 2)

Skeletal Legion

After a much needed rest in the Hidden Armory, the party continued its journey.

After exploring the area around the sigil traps, the party decided to investigate the passages to the south, where the first group of zombies had attacked them when the trap had been triggered.

In the southern passages, they found a hallway lined with sarcophagi. The ornate granite lids depicted warriors; armed and armored, ever vigilant through the centuries. At the eastern end of the hall, a larger chamber; bathed in a soft silvery-white light.

Zekknar had previously cast a Light spell on a coin, which he tossed upon the floor to light this section of the hall, and the party moved in to investigate. There was some type of script chiseled into the outer rim of the sarcophagi lids. Thunt felt certain it was Iokharic, but never learned to read the draconic language.

As the group moved further to the east, to investigate the silvery light emanating from the vaulted room beyond, a deafening concussion shook the ancient hall. The lids of all ten sarcophagi suddenly exploded from within. Pieces of the granite coffin lids flew in every direction, some the size of a fist, others as big as a shield. Flakes and pebbles of granite clattered like rain, as a billowing waist-high wave of dust rolled across the floor.

Skeleton warriors

Coughing and sputtering, the party peered through the gray-brown pall of dust in horror as undead skeletons clawed their way out of what remained of the sarcophagi. Compelled from the grave, compelled with singular purpose and hate, the animate dead skidded and scrambled over the rubble and attacked from every direction.

Cut off from retreat back the way they came, the party decided to fight a tactical withdrawal towards the large room to the east, though not without some hesitation; as they knew nothing of what might await them there.

The yellow light from Zekknar’s ensorcelled coin, half buried amongst the rubble, combined with the soft silvery light behind them, cast wild, frenetic shadows in the thick shroud of choking dust.

The battle raged on for some time. Thunt called upon the Great Mother to destroy the abominations, Zekknar’s mighty theurgies laid waste, and the Sword of Torm smote his foes in the name of righteousness.

Legionbattle1

And all at once, it was over. No less than ten of the undead skeletons had been destroyed in the pitched battle. Drenched in sweat grown thick with dust, the group panted with exhaustion.

Thunt had thrown himself at the foul things in a fury, compelled by a deep hate for something so antithetical to life. The peaceful dwarven priest of a god of life was growing accustomed to wading into the thick of the fight, banishing evil in the name of Chauntea, but not without cost. Thunt took the lions share of the damage during the fight, but unlike these abhorrent lifeless entities, his was a life spent in devotion to life, rebirth, renewal. Chauntea watches over her faithful. Thunt’s wounds were healed before the battle even ended.

No more than a few minutes after the battle had ended, the cold pall of death that had been lifted, suddenly returned. Two of the sarcophagi began, once more, to shake and scream. From either side of the hall, two more skeletons began to claw their way from within stone coffins that only seconds before had been empty. As the party once again sprang to the attack, two more sarcophagi screamed and shook, and two more skeletons joined the fight. And two more!

The party realized that the skeletons would not stop unless something was done to stop them, but what? Sure that the answer lay within the room of silvery light to the east, Talon shouted for the group to move into the room. Perhaps an answer could be found within?

As they dispatched the last two skeletons and stepped within the large domed chamber, the sarcophagi stopped. The group was surprised to find the ceiling was painted black, depicting a radiant night sky, covered with stars surrounding a set of vivid silver and blue eyes gazing down upon them. The eyes were surrounded by six equidistant silver points of light with a single larger point of light above the eyes. Thunt quickly realized what the image on the ceiling represented: it was Selune, Our Lady of Silver, goddess of the moon.

At the north and south ends of the room, there were two altars. Each altar was inscribed with elaborate script, and relief images of soldiers in plate armor were carved upon them. Soldiers on their knees in prayer, presumably to Selune.

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