Apocalyptica

Temples and Deep Gnomes

The party decided to enter the large double doors that Orna said belonged to the Temple. Quintus led the way and once inside was promptly attacked by a black pudding, 4 black earth cult guards, and 1 black earth cult priest. Chained to a large pillar in the room was an unconscious deep gnome. The battle was difficult with the black pudding using its acid attacks to destroy both Kareep’s studded leather armor and Quintus’s plate armor. All the foes were slain except for the priest. He was captured for interrogation. At the end of the fight the party found that the guards stone armor became rigid and unusable. But the priest was wearing splint mail which Quintus put on since his plate armor was destroyed.

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Rukh_Glitterstone.png The priest was interrogated but provided very little new information despite Quintus intimidating him rather severely. The female deep gnome, Rukh Glitterstone, however, was much more willing to talk. She explained that she had been captured by the earth cultists while she was sneaking around and exploring this area. She had never seen Marlos Urnrayle but confirmed that he is indeed a male gendered medusa with the power to turn whomever he looks at to stone. She also confirmed that there is an ancient drow temple in the levels below the black earth cult stronghold. There are also elemental nodes down there where the cultists have some sort of connection with the elemental planes. Rukh Glitterstone was given the choice as to the fate of the cult priest that had been captured. She said she wanted to get home and had no care as to his fate. So he was left chained to the pillar in her stead. And Rukh slipped into the shadows to begin her long journey home.

With that the party moved in to the lair of Marlos Urnrayle. They approached from a secret stair to the east instead of going through the main door. They found the room lavishly decorated but empty of Marlos himself or any other creatures. Much treasure was recovered, however. 1100 SP, 130 PP, a dragon tapestry worth 400 GP, a beautifully carved lyre worth 250 GP, an embroidered silk robe worth 80 GP, and a suit of elven chainmail that Puck put on. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

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At last the party decided to attempt a descent down the stairs to the deeper level. They were met, however, by a battalion of earth elemental myrmidons. The four creatures not only blocked the stairs leading down but pounded into the party with terrible ferocity. When the party retreated they sealed the passageway with a thick wall of stone that became permanent. The party considered having Quintus tunnel through the wall with his Claws of the Umberhulk, but they instead decided to head back to Red Larch to repair their armor and spend some of their well earned coin.

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Clearing Out the Shadow Demons...
... and Ogre Bashing

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The battle with the Shadow Demons finally began to turn the party’s way. Puck cast blur on himself and ran into the room as tasty gnome bait. Templeton hid at the entrance and waited for the shadow demons to appear when they tried to attack Puck. Templeton would loose enchanted crossbow bolts from Sky Piercer at them. Likewise others readied attacks. Puck ignited fireball after fireball to try to burn the creatures away. It was a brutal fight but eventually all 4 shadow demons were slain. Their incorporeal bodies turned to ash upon meeting their end.

After that the party licked its wounds in the still functioning leomund’s tiny hut spell that Puck had created back down in the prison area. They recovered what health they could and then explored some of the abandoned guard rooms which it was surmised all the guards slain to date were living. In the first room 20 GP was found. In the second room 210 SP and 140 EP were recovered. In a chest 6 obsidian flakes worth 10 GP each were found along with 2 potions. A Potion of Water Breathing (which Templeton took) and a Potion of Greater Healing (which Quintus took). The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

With the treasure secured, the group went down to investigate the Ogre Room (according to Orna). Templeton once more wore the guise of Heldorn Stonemelder. He strode boldly into the room hoping to command the ogres. However, Templeton’s plan soon unraveled as he found his lack of speaking the giant tongue created a gap in communication between he and the ogres. The poor communication soon devolved into violence. The 5 ogres were slain in a battle where Kareep made good use of his net. He would throw it over an ogre and then spear the ogre with his javelin using advantage gained by the net. A search of the ogre room produced an unfortunate scene of Templeton witnessing Kareep eating maggots.

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A full rest was then taken to heal all wounds.

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Freeing More Prisoners

Exploration of the a door to the south of the smithy revealed a guard barracks that was also a prison and torture chamber. Inside were 3 Earth Cult guards and Heldorn Stonemelder – an earth cult wizard. The party battled cultists and managed to slay them all. They then turned their attention to the prisoners whom they set free. A female dwarf prospector named Wolgreeta, a male half elf noble adventurer named Grevor, an ex-earth cult human female guard named Orna, and a catatonic human villager were all set free. A search of the room produced a wooden box that was trapped and locked. Templeton removed the trap and unlocked the box. Inside were the personal effects of each of the prisoners which were returned to them. Also in the box was 230 SP, 6 azurites worth 10 GP each, and a wand of web. Puck claimed the wand. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

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The prisoner had little information to offer. They had each been captured by the cult and imprisoned down in that chamber. They had been tortured so badly that Quintus had to use his healing magic to restore their vitality. They were also fed and given water and wine. Wolgreeta clearly had a hatred for Orna, so it was decided that Wolgreeta and Grevor would escort the catatonic man up and out of the complex to safety. Orna was to stay behind and provide a little more intel to the group of what was left in the complex. She pointed out a room of ogres behind one door. She also led the party to the head leader of the cult in this area – Marlos Urnrayle. We had read some of Marlos’ works in the library above in the Monastery of the Sacred Stone. She described him as having snakes coming out of his head. This quite alarmed Templeton who had read about meduasae. She said that made sense since there were a number of statues in his courtyard. She also warned of rumors about shadow demons or some sort of ghosts that lurked in and about the statues. Then as agreed Orna left promising to have nothing to do with the cult and to stay away from the other prisoners.

Orna’s warning proved true. An elaborate ruse was developed whereby Templeton disguised himself as Heldorn Stonemelder. He hoped to enter and speak to Marlos Urnrayle. However, all he found were the shadow demons who attacked him despite his disguise. A battle erupted with the creatures. Templeton and Kareep were badly wounded. In fact Templeton was down and bleeding to death when Kareep dragged him out of the room and then Quintus healed him.

It was very difficult to target the creatures as they hid and lurked in the shadows. Puck bravely moved into the room with a blur going to lure the creatures to him. Puck has a vitriolic sphere readied. Templeton has a crossbow shot readied, and Quintus has a sword attack readied.

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You are Worthy Foes...

The battle with the two bulettes was difficult, but the parties recent experience with fighting the creatures helped. Kareep was amazing in this battle scoring 4 critical hits on the bulettes. Eventually both bulettes were slain and the party continued exploring the complex on the other side of the the large fissure.

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Next there was a large double door with strange writing. It was written in broken giant with terrible grammar. It said something to the effect of ‘Keep Out! Norb says. Norb is dumb, Brug says.’

Templeton suspected there was a rather bipolar ettin on the other side of the door. His hunch proved correct. The party burst in and tried to get the jump on the creature but Quintus’ plate armor spoiled the surprise. The ettin could dish out a lot of damage but was eventually laid low by the precise heavy crossbow bolts of Templeton. In this room Templeton uncovered a pile of treasure – 2900 CP, 130 EP, an ivory statue worth 80 GP, and a pair of gold bracelets worth 30 GP each.

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Further exploration uncovered a pool of water in the center of another room and additional passageways leading back to the deep chasm. Some expert scouting by Widget revealed some other interesting features of a room alongside the deep chasm.

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Heading north the party found the source of the constant ringing and clanging in the complex. There was a forge being worked by two duergar. They were being overseen by a large humanoid creature with black skin. He turned out to be some sort of earth elemental being. Perhaps like a Djinn but instead of tied to air tied to the earth. He was incredibly powerful with the ability to walk through stone, create walls of stone, use some sort of phantasmal killer spell, summoned an earth elemental warrior, and attacked with his huge iron maul.

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The party debated parlaying with these creatures but since the duergar were evil dwarves and the parlay had not worked out their favor, they decided to go in guns blazing. The south door to the room was opened and Kareep flew in to attack the huge overseer. Templeton nailed him with a sneak attack. Puck hurled in a fireball. The Duergar both failed saves against the fireball but the overseer made his save. After the surprise round, Puck hurled in a vitriolic sphere and again both Duergar failed their saves. Both of them were dead before they even had a chance to do anything thanks to Puck’s magic.

But Xharva Deem, the earth giant overseer was calm and cool and ready to fight back. He summoned an earth elemental archon that pounded into Quintus and Kareep. While it kept them busy he casually walked through the stone wall to become adjacent to Templeton who had been riddling him with crossbow bolts from hiding. He then sealed off the passage with a wall of stone that kept Puck at bay and turned to face Templeton. The huge maul swung with terrible ferocity. Templeton managed to roll into the first blow, reducing the damage but the second really hurt. Templeton wisely disengaged and moved quickly along the ledge to try and put some distance between him and his foe. Kareep had wisely flown around the deep chasm and the creatures wall of stone and was able to engage the earth giant and allow Templeton to get an other deadly shot on him with his crossbow. Xharva Deem pounded into Kareep but before Templeton could fire the last killing shot it spoke. “You are worthy Foes.” And with that he disappeared. Templeton could see invisible creatures but saw nothing. It was suspected that he plane shifted.

In the Smithy the party found 2 Iron Coffers filled with treasure. 600 GP, 2 gold bracelets 100 GP each, gold necklace 750 GP, 12 malachites worth 25 GP each. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

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Puck Trout

The party explored the complex further by beginning to see what was behind all the doors Templeton had encountered during his scouting mission. The first and closest door was an empty barracks with many beds and adornments that clearly indicated it was most likely for the all the guards that had been previously defeated. Amongst the personal belongings in the set of rooms Templeton recovered 15 GP, 5 PP, and 5 citrine gems worth 40 GP each. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

The next door had a unique design of a statue of a dwarf carved into the front of it. The hands of the dwarf were replaced with big morning stars. Beyond that door was a room filled with ancient statues from the era of the Bessilmir Dwarves. The statues lined the walls many looked like dwarves in various poses. Some had been defaced and others had some parts of the stone seemingly melted away. There was also a workshop of sorts set up with a few tables on the far side of the room. Working there was an earth genasi man wearing robes. Through the course of a quick conversation of fast talking Templeton learned his name was Miraj Vizann and that he wanted to be left to his work. After a quick discussion with the rest of the party, Templeton thought they should storm in and attack. This individual was clearly a member of the cult. Puck begged to differ and thought a parlay was more in order.

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After some back and forth that was polite with Templeton. Puck came in and confronted him. The little gnome noticed that the iconography on the robe of Miraj Vizann was a combination of the water cult symbol and the earth cult symbol intertwined. Puck and Miraj exchanged some additional witty banter until Miraj grew tired of the ruse and asked his pet to attack. One of the stone statues turned out to be a stone golem which smashed into Templeton. Miraj cast an erupting earth spell with an interesting mud theme to it which Puck countered. But then Miraj countered the counter and the spell went off as normal. The spell tore through everyone but Templeton who managed to evade it. Puck’s little gnome body could not withstand the damage from Miraj’s spells and the stone golem’s fists. Puck went down in a bloody heap. Templeton turned invisible, grabbed Puck, and dragged him out of the room and closed the door. He never would have made it out through the difficult terrain of thick mud left over from Miraj’s spell, but Templeton’s Ring of Free Action enabled him to ignore the terrain and not be slowed. That provided a little bit of a respite in time for Quintus to bring Puck back up with a healing spell. But it was short lived as the stone golem came bursting through the door and out into the hall.

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Puck’s ire had reached the boiling point and he unleashed a vitrolic sphere that coated the stone golem and Miraj in burning acid. The party was fighting back up the hallway towards the room to the north, but Miraj sealed it off with a wall of stone preventing Templeton from using the corner to gain advantage. Templeton, Quintus, and Kareep had been hitting the stone golem for lots of damage and the acid was eating away at the creature as well. Finally Quintus hit it with a sacred flame that destroyed the stone golem.

Miraj was quite disappointed that his construct was destroyed and lamented that he would have to build another. He cast a powerful polymorph spell that turned Puck into a trout, went back inside his room and shut the door.

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Templeton quickly pursued him not wanting to let him get away. He ran down the hall jumping over Puck’s trout form flapping around the cave floor. He opened the door and entered the room. At first it appeared empty but Templeton’s keen eyes spied Miraj Vizann hiding behind one of the statues in the corner of the room. Templeton snuck around the statue and unloaded Sky Piercer right into his back. Much to the surprise of Miraj, the heavy crossbow bolt suddenly erupted from them front of his chest. He gently coughed, calmly turned around, used a handkerchief to wipe off some of the blood from his mouth, pointed a hand at Templeton and unleashed a full barrage of 8 magic missiles. Templeton used to know the spell shield which would have negated the magic missiles, but he had given it up in favor of other magics such as darkvision. So all 8 magic missiles pounded into the little man and he collapsed in a bloody mess.

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Quintus looked down at the flopping fish form of Puck Trout and shrugged. None of his magic could help the poor little thing. But he could spread the blessings of Tempus on Miraj Vizann. And so he did. He ran into the room spotted Miraj standing over the body of Templeton and brought down his greatsword in a huge arc. Miraj was sliced in twain by the mighty enchanted blade. With the death of Miraj, Puck returned to his old gnomish self.

Quintus healed Templeton and brought him back up but everyone was badly wounded and in need of more magic. So the decision was made to create Leomund’s Hut inside the dwarven statue room of Miraj Vizann and rest even though they had completed a full long rest less than an hour ago. A full 24 hours was therefore needed to be taken to rest and recuperate. A search of the room yielded a small wooden chest. It was filled with 220 GP, 9 black crystals worth 50 GP each, a potion of water breathing, and a crystal which turned out to be an elemental gem of water elemental summoning.

Kareep also used the laboratory in the room to craft 2 potions of healing. The Master Party Treasure List was updated. During the entire 24 hours no one came to investigate and the party was not disturbed. Perhaps most of the inhabitants had been slain.

Now refreshed, the party continued their exploration to the south. They wanted to check on something that was chained to a stone pillar that Templeton had seen during his previous scouting. They found two Bulettes chained to pillars. The bulettes quickly snapped their chains and attacked. Kareep and Templeton were surrounded by the huge creatures and cut up pretty badly.

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Resting in the Hut

With everyone but Templeton really hurt from the last epic battle, the decision was made to hole up and take a long 8 hour rest. Clearly this place was still quite dangerous so Puck brought forth the idea of casting a ritual version of his spell Leomund’s Tiny Hut. It brought into a existence a 10 foot radius domed force field that kept all creatures, objects, and magic out with the exception of the party. Puck placed the spell in the Duergar quarters sealing off the passageway leading in from the doorway. The field of force was transparent from the inside and opaque black from the outside.

Everyone settled down to rest inside the Leomund’s Hut except Templeton who cast disguise self to look like Yarsha Stonemelder. He also cast invisibility on himself and began to explore the rest of the complex. He found that is was vast indeed. He only traveled where he could sneak and did not open any doors. At one point he found another huge chasm with a small walkway. He heard the banging and clanging of perhaps some sort of forging going on. He also saw a large chain wrapped around a column connected to some sort of creature. He worked his way back to the Leomund’s Hut after a few minutes and joined the rest of the party in taking a long rest.

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At one point about halfway through the rest a cult guard opened the door and carefully approached. He tried to touch the black wall of the Leomund’s Hut. He then ran off to get help. He returned with some additional guards and a priest. Other guards were beginning to clean up all the bodies of the cultists that the party had left littered all over the floor. They tried a few things to study and get through the black wall but could not figure it out. Another bulette with another rider just like Nartham Burrowshark also arrived. Guards were stationed to watch the strange black wall. They occasionally tapped on it with their maces and stood guard.

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When it came close to the Leomund’s Hut spell expiring, everyone prepared. Templeton created an illusion of the same wall right on the inside of the Hut. When the Hut expired and disappeared the wall appeared to still be there. Everyone sprung into action. Kareep and Quintus attacked the guards on the other side of the illusion with surprise hurting them badly. Puck let off a fireball to burn many of the guards out in the main room and the cult priest. Templeton lined up a perfect shot on the cult priest from hiding and put a heavy crossbow bolt through the man’s neck, taking his head clean off his body and causing it to roll across the floor and stop at the feet of one of the guards. The priest was dead before he could anything.

But the guards stormed in to attack and it didn’t take long with the bulette rider who looked just like Nartham Burrowshark to come crashing through the door and smash into Kareep and Quintus knocking them back. The bulette cut through Quintus and Kareep with those rows of razor sharp teeth and the spear of the rider was unrelenting with 3 attacks per round.

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This time instead of focusing our fire on the rider, all attacks were focused on the bulette. Puck got the bulette, the rider, and many guards with a vitriolic sphere and then unleashed a full barrage of magic missiles on the bulette from his wand. Kareep and Quintus pounded on the bulette with their melee attacks and Templeton continued to bury heavy crossbow bolts deep into the creatures thick hide from positions of hiding. Kareep took too much damage and was forced to fly away up the north passage behind Puck to get some relief. Finally the bulette fell and this time the rider went berserk as the mount and rider shared a special bond. He went medieval on Quintus with his spear and left him fallen but his magical amulet stopped the bleeding and automatically stabilized him.

As the Bulette Knight gloated over the fallen Quintus with his spear held high in a battle frenzy, Templeton calmly drew a careful bead on the burrowshark with Sky Piercer. He ever so gently stroked the trigger putting a heavy crossbow bolt straight through the man’s face and out his skull on the other side. He hit the ground before he even knew he was dead.

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Most of the guards had died or at least been horribly wounded from the fire and acid of Puck’s magic. But those few that made it through were quickly dispatched. Kareep healed Quintus and then there was quiet again. Quintus and Kareep had been badly wounded but Puck only a little and Templeton not at all.

The party healed themselves and then made ready to explore further into the complex based on Templeton’s previous exploration.

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The Never Ending Onslaught
Endless Enemies to Battle

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The battle over the gaping chasm raged on. One surviving gargoyle hovered over the stone bridge locked in close combat with Kareep while the three destroyed gargoyles rocky remains littered the ground below them. Templeton snuck forward from around the corner and loosed a deadly bolt from Sky Piercer that took a huge chunk of stone off the chest of the gargoyle.The creature’s defenses slipped as it writhed in pain allowing Kareep to slide his enchanted javelin through its guard into the hole created by Templeton and straight through the other side. The Gargoyle froze for a moment and then burst apart into tiny pieces of rubble that clattered down into the pit below. Kareep then flew up to stand back in the tunnel behind Puck.

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Meanwhile Puck was all that stood between Nartham Burrowshark and the rest of the party. Not wanting to give up the advantage of the tunnel behind him, Puck gritted his teeth, cast blur, and held the line. The hobgoblins moved up into position and all 4 of them fired arrows from their short bows at Puck but were fooled by the flickering image of the gnome and all missed their target. Quintus used his ring of jumping to leap 50 feet across the gaping chasm and land next to Kareep in the tunnel. Quintus cast an empowered bolt spell at Nartham Burrowshark but the earth cultist cast a shield spell and blocked it.

The Bulette suddenly leaped up into the air and over Puck to land on top of Kareep and Quintus in a whirling maelstrom of teeth and claws. The creature’s razor sharp teeth hurt them badly. Puck spun around and cast thurderwave trying to unseat Nartham Burrowshark from his mount. They both took damage but neither were moved at all by the spell and Nartham stood tall in the saddle.

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Kareep responded by thrusting his enchanted javelin twice into the rocky hide of the Bulette. Quintus cast a spiritual weapon on Nartham Burrowshark and followed up with a big swing of his greatsword. Templeton moved up and fired but somehow missed the huge target of the Bulette. Templeton used his elven cloak to slink back into the shadows and hide. The huge creature again reared up and leaped up into the air to come crashing down on Kareep and Quintus causing more massive amounts of damage and knocking Quintus prone. Nartham thrust his long spear into Quintus.

Puck then unleashed a huge fireball. The flames of which engulfed both the bulette and Nartham Burrowshark. Puck then boldly moved to close on the hobgoblins. The 4 hobgoblins were surprised by the little gnome striding boldly to close with them. But they drew their longswords and obliged by encircling the little gnome. The flanking maneuver gave them advantage but the disadvantage from the blur canceled it out to a normal attack. Two of the swords would have hit if not for Puck casting a shield spell in response.

Kareep used his turn to heal himself with a cure wounds spell and held his ground. Quintus stood up and missed with his spiritual weapon but hit Nartham Burrowshark twice with his greatsword. The Bulette leaped up and smashed down onto Kareep and Quintus again. Nartham nailed Quintus with his long spear. But suddenly from out of the shadows, Templeton let loose a critical sneak attack from his heavy crossbow Sky Piercer. The bolt tore threw the throat of Nartham Burrowshark. Blood gushed out of the gaping holes in his neck as his body limply slid off his mount to crumple to the ground. In response to the demise of his master, the bulette went berserk and thrashed all about with his razor sharp teeth cutting Kareep to ribbons. The mighty bird man collapsed in a pool of blood and Quintus could barely stand after the onslaught.

Puck unleashed another ball of fire. This one engulfed all 4 hobgoblins and the Bulette. The bulette was lit up and burned extensively and the hobgoblins all perished falling away into ash. Quintus healed both himself and Kareep with a healing word of magic and attacked the bulette with his greatsword but could not penetrate the thick hide of the creature. The huge creature loomed up over Quintus and Kareep but another thwock sound was heard as another bolt flew out of the shadows to find its mark in the brain pan of the bulette. Templeton turned it off like light as it collapsed and went still.

The door next to Puck suddenly opened but he saw no one there. Badly injured, the little gnome moved back to the side of his friends. Kareep bathed himself in healing magic. Quintus moved up next to Puck and cast healing magic on the little gnome. Templeton moved up and concerned over the door opening, he cast a see invisibility spell. Suddenly the giant forms of five enlarged invisible duergar appeared before him. Templeton called out a warning, but before any of his friends could react, the duergar fanned out and attacked with their giant hammers. Everyone but Templeton who saw them coming were pounded badly but the attacks caused the invisibility to fade allowing everyone to see the giant dwarves looming over them.

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Puck quickly responded with his usual reaction – fireball! The ball of fire ripped through the duergar getting them all but was expertly sculpted around the party members to keep them safe from the flames. Quintus disengaged and moved back using his spritual weapon to kill one of the dwarves. Kareep also disengaged and moved back. Templeton pulled out his hand crossbow to shoot one of the duergar point blank. The bolt sunk into his eye socket. The dwarf dropped like a ton of bricks. After quickly reloading the hand crossbow with his free hand, Templeton fired a second time catching another deep dwarf in the heart. That duergar also died clawing at the bolt in his heart as he slowly sank to the ground. Templeton then moved back around the corner and out of site easily moving through the difficult terrain strewn with bodies while wearing his ring of free action.

Puck used a poison spray spell to very little effect as the deep dwarves were quite resistant to poison. The two remaining duergar attacked Puck but could not hit him as his blur spell continued to protect him. Kareep hurled one acid javelin and missed but his second acid javelin was a critical hit. The acid burned the back of the skulll away from the duergar and its brain slid free from its body as it collapsed to the ground. The last duergar standing looked around at his dead friends and thought about getting out of there before a familiar thwok came from the shadows and a heavy crossbow bolt caught it in the shoulder and spun it around like a rag doll as it expired and dropped to the ground.

Everyone breathed deeply and listened to the thumping of their hearts in their chests, but the battlefield had finally grown silent. The battle was won but at great cost. Puck’s magic was nearly all used and everyone was severely hurt except for Templeton who had managed to escape being injured at all. Templeton searched the bodies and found 90 GP in loose coinage. The Master Party Treasure List was updated. The party holed up in the Duergar’s quarters. Templeton rigged the door with a bell trap to alert the party to anyone trying to get into the room.

Twenty minutes into the hour long rest, the bell went off. Everyone readied an attack. An earth cult guard decked out in armor made of stone peaked around the corner. Templeton and Quintus unleashed attacks but both missed. Kareep’s javelin found its mark, however. Eight earth cult guards charged forward to attack. Puck lets loose another fireball. All but 1 of them failed their save and became bloodied as the fire burned their flesh. Templeton nailed the remaining guard who was not bloodied from hiding using a sneak attack to make him bloodied as well.

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Then suddenly Yarsha Stonemelder came around the corner and and cast an erupting earth spell. The very rock of the floor exploded pounding into everyone in the party and even some of her own guards. Everyone was hurt badly except for Templeton who managed to avoid all the damage due to his quick evasion. Yarsha moved back down the hall and out of view. Kareep moved up and hurled his javelin of lightning to tear through the guards. The guards attacked Puck and Kareep with Kareep again taking the brunt of the damage. Puck unleashed a vitriolic sphere of acid such that it poured down the hallway where Yarsha Stonemelder was hiding and ripped through the guards covering them all in acid and sculpting it around the party so that they avoided any damage. The screams were terrible as the acid ate away at the flesh of the cultists leaving only three of the eight guards alive.

Yarsha Stonemelder again came around the corner and unleashed another erupting earth spell. Again everyone but Templeton was severely hurt and Kareep went down bleeding to death. The three remaining cult guards attacked Quintus and Puck. Puck responded with a poison spray killing one of the guards. Quintus healed Kareep to bring him back up. The whole time Templeton had been waiting in the shadows. He had his shot readied and lined up for the corner expecting Yarsha Stonemelder to come around to attack again. And indeed she did. The cult leader rounded the corner and was met with a heavy crossbow bolt that sunk deep into her chest. The critical sneak attack bloodied her but she still managed to get her erupting earth spell off. The magic tore through the party causing both Kareep and Puck to go down. Templeton again managed to avoid all damage due to his evasion but Quintus was teetering on the edge with only a few HP left. Satisfied Yarsha Stonemelder, pulled the bolt out of her chest, grimaced, and then laughed as she moved out of view down the hall leaving a trail of blood.

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Templeton burst into view firing his hand crossbow twice in rapid succession. The first bolt buried deep into the crease in the guards armor. He coughed blood and began to stagger. The second bolt flew right through the eye hole in the helmet of the last guard spinning him around. Templeton sprinted past the two guards before they hit the floor to die and ran out into the room looking for Yarsha Stonemelder. His path was all difficult terrain due to all the bodies and loose stone from the erupting earth spells littering the floor but Templeton was able to move quickly through it thanks to his Ring of Free Action. Templeton found Yarsha soon enough as she caught him full in the chest with a shatter spell. Templeton was hurt for the first time in this long epic battle. But again he somehow made his save only losing the extra hit points afforded to him by the grace of Tempus and the aid spell of Quintus.

The bloodied Yarsha Stonemelder had nowhere left to run. She just watched Templeton as he raised Sky Piercer and let loose a critical hit that pierced her heart. As she slowly sunk to her knees the last thing she saw was Templeton walking casually toward her perfectly mimicking her previous laughter but in a mocking tone. Templeton mad a quick search of the bodies to find 95 GP in odd coinage amongst the earth cult guards and Yarsha. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

Again the field was quiet, but for how long?

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Devastation in Red Larch
Templeton Deals with the Lich

Having cleared out the ancient seat of the Bessilmir Dwarves at Tyar-Besil, the party began to make their way back to the town of Red Larch. Along the way they experimented with their new magic items. Quintus discovered that his Ring of Jumping had a taste for blood that needed to be satiated before it would function. A little bit of blood has to be put on the ring each day in order for it to work. Templeton discovered that his Gloves of Missile Snaring made a loud noise like a gong whenever they were used. Along the journey Puck used his new spell Leomund’s Tiny Hut as a ritual to create a safe space for the party to camp in the wilderness. It created a 10 foot radius dome of force around the party keeping everything out and formed an excellent protective barrier. Using the spell the journey back to Red Larch went without any trouble.

The arrival in Red Larch was sad indeed. Debris was strewn all over town, trees were down, town buildings were completely flattened, Red Larch was devastated. Everyone in the party quickly laid their aid to help in the search for survivors in the debris and to clean up the mess that was the town. Templeton was able to find out that early that morning some pilgrims had come to town bearing a large box with symbols on it. They opened the box and ran off releasing a huge wind storm that raged through the town for 1 hour.

Gaelkur’s, The Helm at High Sun, Drouth Fine Poultry, Waelvur’s Wagon Works, Mhandyvver’s Poultry, and Valivoe’s Sundries were all completely destroyed. Endrith Vallivoe himself along with 3 of his children were dead. One little child of Endrith’s was saved and gotten to surviving kin.

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The party worked with Constable Harbruck to help as best they could mostly by casting healing magic and performing first aid on town survivors. After an exhausting 48 hours of work, everything that could be done had been done and the party finally laid their heads down to rest. During the work, Templeton had gotten a first hand account of the pilgrims. They all seemed to be human and wore the symbols of the air cult on their robes. The box they carried also had symbols of the air cult. They removed an orb of glass from the box that was about the size of a cannonball. It hung in the air for 1 minute as the pilgrims literally ran as fast as they could away from it. It then erupted into a n explosion of air that began the hour long and 1 mile radius wind storm that savaged the town.

Templeton shared this information with Constable Harbruck and learned from him that his investigations of the town elders had confirmed our suspicions and most of them were now imprisoned for their complicity with the earth cult.

Puck spent four 8 hour days working on copying spell’s from Aerisi Kalinoth’s spellbook into his own. He spent 800 GP worth of materials including special inks and paper to do so. Kareep spent 5 days working with Haeleeya in order to learn the art of herbalism. He spent 10 GP to purchase an herbalism kit from her. Kareep then used his herbalism skill to make 2 potions of antitoxin and 2 potions of healing taking 2 days total and costing 115 GP in total. Templeton purchased a huge crowbar from Feng Ironhead for Quintus for 2 GP in order to hopefully bend the bars of the gate under the Monastery of the Sacred Stone, where the party was going next. The Master Party Treasure List was updated. Templeton also spent some quality time at The Dripping Candelstick which was thankfully undamaged by the windstorm.

The party then journeyed overland to the Monastery of the Sacred Stone. They found it just as they had left it. Templeton warned the party that he very much wanted to speak to the Gentleman of Presence, who he suspected of not only being a Lich but also being Renwick Caradoon. His past two interactions with the lich had not gone well. The first time, Templeton tried to charm him and was forcibly removed via telekinesis and the second time he was hit by a cloudkill spell. Templeton straightened his shirt and fixed his hair and said, ‘wish me luck gentleman.’

Templeton approached the door to the Lich’s lair. But instead of knocking or opening the door, he cast a message spell to the lich himself and said, ‘Renwick Caradoon if you are still loyal to the Knights of Samular, I ask that you parlay with me peacefully.’ The door silently opened. Templeton entered the room finding the lich working at his desk. Without looking up he said, ‘I will speak to you. You have five minutes.’

Templeton explained that they were working for The Knights of Samular to return a fallen knight’s body to Summit Hall and that the elemental cults were responsible. The Lich provided some information but nothing Templeton did not already know. Templeton did manage to convince the Lich to trade magic items with the party. In exchange for Kareep’s Figurine of Wonderous Power and Enchanted Boomerang, the Lich gave him an Amulet of Health. Templeton traded his Gloves of Missile Snaring for a Cloak of Elvenkind. The Master Party Treasure List was updated. The Lich had the following items for trade which we did not get: Potion of Greater Healing, Potion of Hill Giant Strength, Scroll of Invisibility, and Scroll of Snylloch’s Snowball Storm.

The Lich granted us passage through the ancient keep in order to reach the area beneath that was as yet unexplored. Quintus used his huge crowbar to try and bend the bars but could not bend them even a little with his ogre strength. Little Puck, however, stepped up and tapped the lock on the gate with his knock spell and it clicked open immediately.

The stairs beyond spiraled down and down. Puck used his detect magic spell to find a hidden ward half way down that hid a glyph of warding. Puck was able to remove it using his arcana skill. Templeton snuck ahead when the stairs leveled out to a corridor. He found the passageway led through to a large hole and an area beyond.

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There was an area ahead that had a door blasted in. Kareep and Puck tried to fly through the room with the large pit surrounding the passage only to be attacked by 3 gargoyles that were lurking in the shadows of the ceiling. Kareep set down Puck and began fighting the gargoyles who immediately swarmed to fight the hated aurakokra.

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Puck ran off to get away from the nasty edge of the passageway. In the process he nailed one of the gargoyles with a firebolt for a critical hit. Puck went through into the next room to hide around the corner but saw some hobgoblins down to the south. Unfortunately they saw him as well and made their up to get closer, sound an alarm, and fire their longbows at him. The wee gnome used his shield spell to protect himself from the missiles.

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Kareep hit one of the gargoyles with his enchanted javelin and Templeton nailed it with Sky Piercer to shatter the creature into tiny bits of rubble. But then Puck began to worry because in addition to the hobgoblins a huge creature rambled up from the southern passage. A human by the name of Nartham Burrowshark, riding a Bullete, rambled right up to Puck and attacked him with his spear.

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Get that Ghost!
I aint 'fraid 'o no Ghost!

With Quintus still possessed by the ghost of the dwarven crypt and Templeton down, Kareep flew over to Templeton and healed him with a spell in order to get him back into the fight. Kareep, Puck, and Templeton ganged up on their friend and finally knocked him unconscious forcing the ghost to emerge from Quintus. Kareep was able to make it over to Quintus and heal him to get him back into the fight as well.

dwarf_ghost.png The ghost looked like an old dwarf. He gazed malevolently at the party and then his face turned into a hideous thing of terror as he unleashed his horrific visage upon the group. Templeton was out of site and was unaffected. Puck felt his life ebb away as he lost hit points but also 10 years of his age. Kareep was terrified and fled the room completely.

Templeton then snuck up and nailed the ghost with a critical hit from Sky Piercer. The ghost shimmered with a gaping wound in its incorporeal flesh where Templeton’s enchanted bolt had torn through it. The ghost then went ethereal. Multiple attacks both magical and non-magical went right through it. It could also not be seen until Puck and Templeton cast see invisibility and were able to gaze into the ethereal plane and spot the creature. The ghost floated right inside one of the stone blocks of the crypts. Puck tried to open the door to the small tomb and boom was engulfed in a glyph of warding of acid. Templeton luckily used his evasion to completely avoid the trap. But the acid ate away at the poor gnome’s flesh and burned him badly.

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The ghost was nowhere to be found. But inside the crypt Puck saw the remains of a dwarf wearing a funerary mask and a golden ring upon his bony finger. Templeton came over to help when the ghost suddenly came out of the stone and went right into Puck to possess him. Puck began shooting firebolts at Quintus until Puck took a bead on the little gnome and let him have it. As Puck fell to the ground the ghost was forced to emerge. Quickly Quintus used a powerful 4th level guided bolt to tear apart the ghost and at last it was no more.

Quintus healed Puck and Kareep finally overcame his fear and returned to the crypt. Free now to search the area, they found 5 crypts each warded by a glyph of warding. Templeton used his mage hand to open them and set off the magical traps from afar, just out of range of their acidic blasts. Two of them could have turned Puck and Templeton to stone. But luckily both made good saves against the effect.

Inside each crypt were dwarven remains covered in a funerary mask. There were figurines, a pair of leather gloves, and a ring. Puck used detect magic to discover that the ring and leather gloves were magical. Templeton took them and later they were identified by Puck. The Ring was a Ring of Jumping with a minor temperate enchantment upon it which allows the wearer to be comfortable in temps between -20 and 120 F which Quintus took. The Leather Gloves were a pair of Gloves of Missile Snaring that had a minor enchantment of illusion upon them allowing the wearer to alter their appearance to whatever type gloves they wish. Templeton took these gloves. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

With the entire complex now explored, it seems the party must now decide where to go next.

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Dwarven Spirits

Continuing the sweep of the area, the party went methodically from room to room making sure they hadn’t missed anything. Most of the rooms were empty shops and storefronts from the old dwarven city. However, in the southwest ruins where Templeton first encountered the Umber Hulk, he found a tunnel leading down to a nest of sorts. Inside the Umber Hulk nest he found 92 GP of scattered coinage, a miniature electrum anvil worth 150 GP, and a solid steel rod that was identified by Puck as an Immovable Rod. Templeton claimed the Immovable Rod and the Master Party Treasure List was updated.

The only area unexplored was the huge double stone doors sealed with many spikes. Kareep used his primevil awareness to determine that undead were beyond the doors. Quintus also confirmed that the sealed doors were of dwarven make and included iconography of the dwarven god Dumathoin, the keeper of the secrets, and Moradin, chief of the pantheon. Before getting into trouble in this room, the party decided to go back to Aerisi’s throne room.

Inside Templeton and Kareep studied the huge map that lay beneath the throne. Kareep used his Cartography skills to determine that the tunnels here were linked to other larger and deeper underdark passages, but it was not clear which tunnel would take us any closer to other areas.

The party further investigated the hole in the floor of the pyramid from which a howling wind blew. Puck sensed through his identify spell that it was highly magical with a great deal of power but was unable to learn more than that. Thinking that perhaps Ahtayir had left the gust of wind bottles for each of us in order to combat the wind and go down the tunnel after Aerisi Kalinoth. It was surmised that perhaps a gust of wind in the opposite direction could negate or lessen the howling wind coming up out of the hole. So Puck cast gust of wind and held aloft in his wee harness by Kareep went above the hole and directed his gust of wind downward. Puck’s magic negated the wind enough to allow Kareep to begin to fly down into the vertical shaft.

Templeton and Quintus affixed ropes to pillars and began to rappel down after them. However, it soon became evident that the vertical shaft was much deeper than anticipated. After 60 feet, Quintus ran out of rope. After 100 feet Templeton also ran out of the rope. The two climbed back up and out realizing they would have to wait for Kareep and Puck to find the bottom. Puck maintained his concentration, but the 1 minute duration was about to expire, so he cast gust of wind again. He and Kareep went deeper and deeper. After 1000 feet, Puck could still not see the bottom with his 60 foot darkvision. They were so far down the shaft that the light of Kareep’s continual light gem was put a speck to Templeton and Quintus at the top. The tough as nails gnome had pushed it as far as he could, so Kareep readied his wings and Puck angled his gust of wind away to the side allowing the howling wind to come up beneath them. The current was incredibly swift catching Kareep’s wings and propelling the two up the shaft at an alarming rate. In seconds they shout out of the top of the shaft into the temple.

There was but one choice left, the double doors leading into the dwarven halls of the dead. With grim determination, the party moved to the doors. Quintus cast a silence spell and then proceeded to pry loose the iron spikes that held the door shut. The spell worked perfectly keeping the noisy work from making any sound at all. Quintus then opened the door and boldly strode into the room. With his greatsword at the ready he hoped to spread the blessing of Tempus upon any undead that he could find.

Unfortunately one of them found him first. As the party spread out through the room filled with ancient sarcophagi and dusty dwarven stoneworks, something dark and malevolent moved out of the floor and into Quintus. Before he could do anything his eyes went white for a moment and then returned to normal. But some unseen evil had taken root in his body. Something terrible and dark which had been shut down in this place for a very very long. time. Without saying a word, Quintus moved next to Kareep and then swung his great sword at him – attacking his friend.

Then out of the shadows came 4 specters and 1 wraith. The incorporeal forms slid right through the physical objects of the room and reached out cold dead hands to touch the living. Templeton hid from view and Puck was close the entrance, so the undead swarmed around Kareep. He was touched repeatedly and felt the cold dark fingers draw his very life force out of his body. The necrotic damage coursed through him and his strength began to fade. But he fought on jabbing his enchanted javelin like a spear into the nearest Specter.

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Puck let loose a fireball and Kareep attacked with his enchanted javelin once more destroying a specter. Templeton fired Sky Piercer destroying another specter and hiding. Quintus continued to attack his friends, clearly overcome by some dark malevolence. His boisterous back woods proselytizing replaced by the silent and grim enmity towards the living. The battle rages on with all of the specters going being destroyed, but the wraith following Templeton closely and keeping his attacks on the human. Eventually the small man could elude the pursuit no further. The icy touch of the wraith chilled him to the very bone and he dropped to the floor bleeding from his nose.

Puck managed to use Templeton’s Healing kit to stabilize Templeton. And together with Kareep managed to destroy the wraith. But the two now face Quintus who is clearly possessed. With no way to force the ghost out of their friend they try to knock him out.

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