Apocalyptica

Aerisi Kalinoth Showdown
Mono a Gnomo

The battle with Aerisi Kalinoth continued. Kareep suddenly flew at Aerisi and grabbed hold of her with his talons and fists. While the two pushed back and forth grappling, Kareep noticed something. His hands passed right through her Aerisi’s wings. It seems her wings were some form of illusion. Kareep wondered if she was really an elf. Kareep and Aerisi twisted around each other until Aerisi managed to cast a spell. A huge maelstrom of wind erupted around her. Lightning Bolts smashed into Kareep. But despite the gale force winds and blasts of lightning, Kareep’s iron grip on Aerisi held firm. Aerisi also called Ahtayir to her side. The Djinn came as bidden by his mistress completely unaffected by the raging maelstrom of wind. She commanded him to remove Kareep and kill him. With a look of sadness, Ahtayir complied blasting Kareep with a thunderwave. But the brave Aaurakokra still clung to Aerisi despite taking damage from the blast.

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On the other side of the room, Templeton was surrounded by air cult initiates and still being hounded by what turned out to be an invisible stalker. He was hurt badly by the stalker and had to get back to Quintus. He disengaged the enemy, dove under the curtain, and came up sprinting towards the cleric. Quintus obliged by casting a healing spell on Templeton. The initiates gave chase and surrounded both Templeton and Quintus who were fighting side by side. Templeton raised his crossbow and then wham! He was hit twice by the invisible stalker. Both were critical hits striking him in the head. Templeton went down instantly and blood started pouring out of his ears.

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Puck made his way invisibly towards the enchanted horn that summoned Ahtayir. But the raging maelstrom of wind prevented him from getting close enough to blow it. Kareep still grappling desperately with Aerisi, raked the elf queen with his talons. She cried out in pain and her concentration on her spell wavered. The gale force winds ceased as Ahtayir blasted Kareep once more with a thunderwave. The exhausted Aarokokra could hold on no longer. He tumbled 15 feet away from Aerisi.

But Kareep had managed to break Aerisi’s concentration on her spell and that was just the chance little Puck was waiting for. With the maelstrom of wind gone, he invisibly moved next to the horn and blew it. Ahtayir vanished and reappeared next to the now visible Puck and asked what command his new master would give. Puck’s brow furrowed as he struggled to think of a command that would help in the best way. Ahtayir looked at Puck and then looked at Aerisi and said, “Please, I beg of you… Let us be done with this once and for all… Destroy the horn and set me free.”

Puck hesitated for a moment more and then with the smile of grim determination, he blasted the horn with a firebolt spell – turning it to dust. Aerisi screamed in fury and turned invisible. She then unleashed a chain lightning spell that ripped into Kareep, Quintus, and Ahtayir. The mighty Djinn only grunted as the pain tore through him but Kareep and Quintus screamed as the lightning left smoking holes in their chests. They both collapsed, bleeding to death.

With Templeton, Quintus, and Kareep down it was last gnome standing. Little Puck stood his ground against the winged elf Queen. It was mono a gnomo. The two slung some spells back and forth and Puck used the enchanted seeking darts to hit Aerisi even though she was invisible. But with all his higher level spells depleted, Puck was outmatched and his friends were bleeding to death. But then by some miracle, Templeton stirred. Rolling a 20 on his death save, Templeton regained consciousness at 1 hit point. He drank a potion of healing himself and used his mage hand legerdemain to pour a healing potion down the throat of Quintus. He then rolled up on to his feet and made his way around the corner to try and get some cover. Templeton yelled for Ahtayir to come over and destroy the invisible stalker. The creature had not been hurt at all and was still hounding Templeton.

The Djinn obliged, moving closer. He watched carefully as Templeton was attacked once again by the invisible stalker. Ahtayir’s high intelligence enabled him to figure out which space the invisible creature was occupying. He then waved his hands to summon a powerful whirlwind. The swirling cyclone engulfed the invisible stalker and swept him up into the air, holding him in the vortex unable to escape.

Aerisi then struck again coating a large area with the an ice storm. The freezing ice badly hurt Quintus, Templeton, and even Kareep who was already bleeding to death. Kareep came very close to going from mostly dead to all dead until Quintus came over and used a healing potion to bring him back to the from death’s door.

Ahtayir thanked Puck once more for freeing him and said as his final gift that he would take the invisible stalker away with him back to the elemental plane of air. Nodding to each party member in turn he flew over to the swirling vortex, placed a hand on the stalker and used plane shift to leave the prime material, bringing the invisible stalker with him.

Aerisi Kalinoth then fled the battle using some sort of teleportation magic most likely. Templeton was the first to give chase, but somehow lost her. Puck was quite keen to not let her escape but there was no helping it. The party chased her all the way out of the pyramid but she had gotten away. Working their way back up to the throne room, Templeton searched the throne itself and found a hidden compartment in the back. Inside was a chest.

The chest was lined with silk and contained some items of elven make carefully packed into it. There was a platinum Torc worth 1600 GP, 4 golden rings adorned with sapphires worth 1000 GP each, and a diadem worth 6400 GP. A beautiful book written in a flowing elvish script was the spell book of Aerisi Kalinoth.

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Aerisi’s Spells
Cantrips – Mage Hand, Shocking Grasp, Ray of Frost, Message, Prestidigitation, Gust
1st – Charm Person, Mage Armor, Feather Fall, Thunderwave
2nd – Invisibility, Gust of Wind, Dust Devil
3rd – Fly, Gaseous Form, Lightning Bolt
4th – Ice Storm, Storm Sphere
5th – Cloudkill, Seeming
6th – Chain Lightning

Templeton also found a secret compartment in the chest that was hiding an enchanted elven ring. It was a Ring of Free Action, which he put upon his finger. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

The Four then made their way down to one of the empty initiate rooms to hide and take a short rest. The hour passed uneventfully. Needing to take along rest, Kareep led the party back to the caved in, dead-end tunnel. There he and Templeton built a blind and everyone hid behind it to try and make it through an extended rest without being found.

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Tug -o- Gnome

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After speaking with Ahtayir it was clear the next step was to launch an attack on the Wyvern riding Kaz Hanar who lurked on top of the pyramid. Kareep flew up with Puck in tow to try and get the jump on the skyweaver. Unfortunately she had heard some of the battle with Ahtayir and was prepared for battle. She tried to fry the approaching bird man and wee gnome with a blast of lightning. but the spell fizzled as Puck countered it. Puck could not stop the wyvern, however, as it sunk its poison stinger deep into his chest and pumped him full of poison. He then grabbed the gnome with his talons and squeezed him hard, trying to pull him free of Kareep’s grasp. Kareep refused to let go of his friend. What resulted was a huge game of Tug o Gnome between wyvern and aurokokra. Puck’s little body could not take it and the tearing and ripping knocked him unconscious. He hung in the air grabbed by both and bleeding to death.

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Templeton fired him hiding below focusing his attack son the wyvern with Kareep and Quintus managed to heal Puck. As Puck came too, he instantly let loose a fireball. The wyvern and Kaz Hanar were burned terribly but the wyvern once again crushed Puck in its talons choking the life out of him once more. Kareep held fast to Puck’s body and continued to attack the wyvern. Finally the beast breathed its last breath and fell far below to smash into the floor. Kaz remained in the air flying, however. Everyone cringed hoping that she would fall with her mount. Everyone that looked at Kaz could tell the resemblance. She was one of the The 3 Sisters the party had battled before.

Puck was revived once more but was hit by a witchbolt from a flying Kaz. After a round or two of Templeton’s bolts and Kareep’s lance Kaz finally fell. Searching Kaz and the wyvern yielded only 2 gems worth 20 GP each. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

With Kaz and her Wyvern out of the picture, the party crossed the moat and opened the door to the inside of the pyramid. Inside they found 5 initiates chanting along with a hurricane monk and skyweaver. As the battle was joined the party realized that the skyweaver was again one of The 3 Sisters that they had fought before. It was a hard won battle but the four were victorious once more. Puck lovingly shot off some fireballs during the battle. Searching the skyweaver they found 2 gems worth 10 GP each. The initiates were carrying 5 magical darts called seeker darts. These one use items have a 120 foot range and automatically hit any creature that the thrower has seen. They even go around corners. The target must make a DC 16 DEX save or take 1d4 piercing damage and 3d4 lightning damage. The Master Party Treasure List was updated. They then decided to move on up the stairs of the pyramid.

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Templeton used his disguise self spell to take on the guise of the skyweaver. As one of the sisters he entered the final room in which he found 10 initiates and Aerisi Kalinoth herself. She was sitting on a throne before a map craved into the floor of the Besilmir Dwarf Empire. Aerisi asked why the skyweaver had disturbed her. Templeton put up his finger urging her to wait as he motioned for everyone else to come up the stairs. He took a step towards her still saying nothing so as to not foil his disguise. But suddenly an invisible force slammed into him knocking him back against the wall.

Thinking the jig was up with the disguise, Templeton let a hand crossbow bolt fly. Luckily he did still have the jump on Aerisi as she did not expect her servant to attack her. His bolt sank deep into her chest. A critical hit! Aerisi staggered backward in surprise as another bolt caught her in the shoulder. The rest of the party ran into the room. Kareep hurled his javelin of lightning taking out 5 of the initiates behind the curtain on one side of the room.

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Gathering herself Aerisi unleashed a cloudkill spell in the area of Templeton. She caught some of her initiates in the area, but did not care. Templeton gagged and coughed and came close to dying but managed to get out of the area of effect quickly. Aerisi also floated down on her wings and and blew a huge horn mounted to her wall. An instant later, Ahtayir appeared asking what command his mistress had for her. “Kill the intruders!” Aerisi yelled to Ahtayir."

The mighty djinn bowed his head and flew over to the far side of the room where Templeton was surrounded by initiates. As he moved Kareep yelled out, “She said Intruders, Ahtayir! All of the cultists are intruders here as are all who are not the original Bessilmir dwarves.” The Djinn looked at Kareep and then back to Templeton. He hesitated for a moment and then waved his hands. A whirlwind picked up one of the air cult initiates and hurled him into the cloudkill area. A hanging curtain blocked Aerisi’s view and Templeton smiled at his good fortune and Kareep’s quick thinking.

Puck turned himself invisible and made his way towards the horn. He wanted to blow the horn and try to free Ahtayir from Aerisi Kalinoth’s control. And perhaps turn him against his former mistress.

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Of Flutes and Genies

The 4 had been exploring the temple of elemental air, trying to find the Kenku who were scaring the prisoners, when they came to a large room with some cultists trying to play the flute.

A stone fountain stands in the middle of a grand plaza, its sides sculpted in to the shapes of dwarves bearing drums and horns. On the far side of the fountain, several figures in feathered attire play a shrill, discordant tune on flutes made of white bone.

A semi-circle of the figures seems to be gathered facing a more vibrantly dressed, beautiful woman. She stops them with an exasperated exclamation of disgust, “Stop! Stop! No, you are playing with too much wind, slow your breathing. And you are off tempo from the rest of the group! You are supposed to be trained…”

Many in the group apologized to the woman calling her Windharrow.

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Windharrow then realizes the door has opened and sees Templeton leading the group.

“You, small man, can any of you play? These cretins clearly cannot! They are awful!”

Kareep sings a line Aarakokra folk tune that sounds haunting and forlorn but more like a bird than a flute. “Sorry…but I cannot play that instrument”

Kareep sings his melody, surprising his comrades with its odd, melancholic nature.

Windharrow pauses for a moment, listening to the echoes of the song fade. “Beautiful… in a dreary sort of way. Be that as it may, we have a performance due soon – can any of you play the flute?”

She then turns to her entourage, “Be prepared to practice once again.”

Templeton steps forward and says, “Why of course. The Daltreys are a well cultured family. I was instructed in harpsichord, lyre, flute, and percussion by some of the finest musicians in Waterdeep. To be honest I was never as good as my sister. She had a gift I could never match, but I more than likely remember a tune or two. “

He takes the flute and plays a few bars of a Sembian Drinking Song that he is fond of.

Templeton walks in to the large plaza and approaches the group with confident strides. With a look to the woman at the center, one of the feather-robed initiates hands over his flute with a poorly disguised frown.

Templeton is surprised at the lightness of the flute. The flutes he has played in the past were made with silver and dense, dark woods. He puts it to his lips to test the timbre, and though the spacing of the holes is a bit different, with a somewhat rusty flare, Templeton trills through the Sembian drinking tune.

Though he has performed well by his own measure, the woman seems somewhat disappointed. “Ok, so you can at least hold a tune and a rhythm. But the choice of song was a poor one indeed – that song is for brothels and bar rooms. We do not entertain such here.”

Windharrow then turns to the rest of the party, “Please tell me some of you can play as well?”

Quintus strides in and says, ‘Your shit out of luck lady, Tempus don’t play no stinking flute.’

Templeton frowns at the woman, "you sound like my mother. She always wanted me to practice more. But unfortunately I spent far too little time practicing and far too much time whoring and drinking… That reminds me of another tune. "

This time he plays a slow and beautiful tune. It actually almost sounds elven with a strange and mysterious grace. But then it fades away in a very sad minor key. Templeton sighs and says, “that piece is called ‘The Tears of Amlaruil’ written by a human bard long ago by the name of Danillo Than. The elven queen of the lost Isle of Evermeet was said to be the most beautiful woman in all Faerun. But she lost her king and was known as the sad queen ever since. Its a terrible tale of love, intrigue, assassination, and tragic sadness. The elves are an ancient people full of mystery and magic. I have never met an elf but have always wanted to. Tell me are there any elves dwelling here?”

Windharrow narrowed her gaze at Templeton and said, “You should stick to music of your own kind, Daltrey. Kill them!” And with that she laughed as she cast a greater invisibility spell. But all traces of laughter faded quickly as Puck reacted with a counterspell that unraveled her magic leaving an expression of great concern upon Windharrow’s face.

Templeton was now the one to smile as he tossed the bone flute up in the air towards Windharrow. As she watched the instrument arc towards her she did not see Templeton draw his hand crossbows and fire at point blank range. The bolts struck deep. One in her chest and the other in her throat.

Windharrow incredulously brought her hands up to feel the blood coursing down her neck just as an intense ball of flame exploded around her and the initiates. Puck’s fireball stopped just short of Templeton who shot the little gnome a withering glance. Two of the 5 initiates caught the full force of the blast – their charred remains breaking into dust as they hit the ground. The other 3 initiates and WIndharrow managed to avoid the full force of the flames but still were burned badly.

Kareep was next flying over the throng of initiates to land next to Windharrow and run her through with his lance. The bard staggered, blood coming out her mouth, but she still managed to command her initiates to form up and get between her and Quintus. But the wily cleric lowered his greatsword and cast a guided bolt spell. His aim was true, guided by Tempus right into the chest of the bewildered Windharrow. She slumped to the ground dead.

The initiates fell quickly but not before using a wind blast to almost knock Templeton and Kareep off the edge of the room which loomed out over the huge chasm. A quick search of the fallen cultists yielded Windharrow’s flute worth 100 GP, a pouch with 3 gems worth 50 GP each , and a platinum ring inlaid with stones worth 100 GP. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

The next room held the 2 remaining Kenku which were quickly dispatched. With their passing the spooky sounds of their voice mimicry ceased and the party was able to guide the human prisoners out beyond the gatehouse. Templeton gave them a light stone to guide them to the surface and their freedom. Before leaving the prisoners warned the party to watch out for Kaz Hanar – she sits atop the pyramid on a flying lizard.

With the prisoners gone, the 4 tried to move the large wheels to lower the moat. It took a lot of effort far too much for Templeton – but the moat was lowered a bit. They were unsuccessful in lowering it completely, however. The group was too exhausted to continue the effort required, so they moved n to further exploring the keep. They wound their way through many simple quarters – beds, rooms, desks, tables, chairs. All very non-nondescript and with nothing of interest or value.

Finally they came to a large room which was hideous. There were 3 Kenku in the room torturing 5 more prisoners in varied an horrible ways. What made it even more horrifying was that the evil bird men were using their voice mimicry to copy the screams of pain of the poor people being tortured. The party was so angered and their vengeance was so swift against he hapless Kenku that all three were killed within 1 round of combat. These other prisoners were shown the way out and Kareep gave them his continual light stone to light their travel home.

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Further exploration brought the party to an area with a different floor. Blue marble marked this section of the complex with a human looking man with large muscles and simple tattered pants and vest digging around in some rubble. Templeton had snuck up on him and after the encouragement of everyone, he attacked with surprise to get the jump on who the party thought was yet another cultist.

Templeton took careful aim and fired a deadly bolt from Sky Piercer. It struck the man in the back staggering him forward. But with a swift response, the man spun around and looked at Templeton with an angry gaze that actually seemed to look like disappointment. With a wave of his hand, Templeton was surrounded in a swirling maelstrom of air which carried him aloft through the high ceilinged room and into the water of the moat some 80 feet away.

Templeton struggled against the water. With the moat lowered partially, it was too far up to the edge of the floor for him to get out. And a large swirling of water indicated something big was moving through the water towards him at a high velocity. Thinking quickly, Templeton used his mage hand to remove his grappling hook and rope from his pack and clamp it around a nearby stone pillar. He then grabbed a hold of the rope, pulled himself to the edge and climbed out of the water to move soaking wet back to where the group had gathered around the humanoid.

There he found Kareep with his hands up apologizing to the humanoid. Puck and Quintus had done the same. Kareep explained that he had recognized that this creature was not in fact human but was in fact a good hearted Djinn. Realizing his mistake, Templeton apologized and with some quick diplomacy smoothed the relations over enough to calm things down and speak.

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The Djinn’s name was Ahtayir and he was bound to a magical horn that had been recently blown to call him back to service. He was summoned long ago by Torhild Flametongue, king of the Besilmer dwarves. Torhild used Ahtayir to build much of the dwarven stronghold. The Dwarven King was kind to Ahtayir and never asked too much of him. He was happy to help the Besilmer dwarves. But that was long ago. Now the enchanted horn has a new owner – Aerisi Kalinoth, the elven woman who now rules the air cult temple and rules as Queen.

Aerisi has commanded Ahtayir to rebuild the entire Besilmer empire to its former glory, a task he thinks will take thousands of years. The djinn is not fond of his new mistress and hopes to be free of her. Templeton explained that the party was aiming to defeat his new mistress and would look for the horn in order to free him from her service.

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Entering the Temple of Elemental Air

The Four crept their way through the canyon to the cave entrance where they had battled the monks and the 3 sisters. They were forced to flee in their previous encounter so they were quite cautious moving in. But it seemed the area was unguarded. Following a long winding stair of dwarven make plunging miles deep into the earth, the four finally arrived at a stronghold of some sort. Again it was clearly of dwarven make and very old. The entrance was blocked by a stout stone door and beyond it were walls lined with arrow slits at dwarven height level.

As The Four moved quietly through the area, they heard strange ghostly sounds of people crying out in pain and crying. The sounds were deeply troubling and made everyone thought some sort of spirits or undead were about. In the end it turned out to be a couple of Kenku. The small bird men had excellent mimicry abilities and were producing the sound. Their arrows bit hard but they were not that tough as they were cut down quickly by Quintus’ greatsword.

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Further exploration of the stronghold revealed a large room with two huge stone pillars and stone spokes coming off of them like a wheel. At each spoke of one of the columns were some human men, clearly slaves, pushing the pillar in a circle. Overseeing the slaves were two priests. Templeton created an illusory wall behind which he hid. Kareep flew in to the room and attacked one of the priests with his lance. Quintus ran in and blasted the same priest with holy fire. Puck created an illusion of himself standing in the doorway.

The two priests responded by both casting a witchbolt spell on Kareep. The bird man resisted one spell but fell prey to the other. Crackling lightning lit him up and remained surging around him. Kareep made two deadly raking attacks on the wounded priest with his talons and the priest fell. The other priest grabbed one of the slaves and tried to us him as a body shield. Templeton took careful aim and slowly exhaled as he pulled the trigger on his hand crossbow. The bolt flew just to the left of the slaves head and buried itself in the priest’s face. Screaming, he pushed the slave to the ground as Templeton fired with his left hand crossbow. The bolt caught the priest in the shoulder and spun him around. Where Quintus ran him through with his greatsword as he sung the praises of mighty Tempus.

A quick parley with the salves revealed that they were from some surrounding villages and had been taken here against their will. They spoke of a female priest who rode a huge lizard and was usually on guard at the top of the inverted pyramid nearby. They explained that these huge columns of stone they were spinning raised and lowered the moat. Templeton convinced them to finish raising the moat in order to avoid any suspicions. Templeton convinced the slaves to try and escape the way the party had entered the area. However, the entrance was still “haunted” by the disturbing voices. Suspecting more kenku on the other side of the complex, Templeton ordered the slaves to hole up in the column room while they dealt with the kenku.

Moving across to the other side of the complex revealed a number of cult initiates tied to stone columns. They looked like they were starving and on death’s door. Thinking she was a prisoner, Templeton untied one of them and offered food and water but was refused by the cultist. She said the only thing she needed was air. Having had enough of the foolishness of cultists, Templeton put a crossbow bolt through her neck and ended her quickly. He did the same for the other two.

In the next room, the party found a woman playing a bone flute. She was trying to teach an assembly of cult initiates to play the flute but did not seem to be having much success. The sound coming from the cult initiates was horrible. She was exasperated at their inability to play properly.

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Giants and Manticores, Oh My!
Return to Sighing Valley

The party made their way from Red Larch back to the Sighing Valley. Approaching from the south, they crossed the river and investigated a large cave, Kareep had seen from the air.

Templeton snuck up to the cave and entered stealthily. The rest of the party was about 500 yards away where there was more cover. Templeton found a large rank smelling cave with a very dim light coming from deeper in. As he snuck through he was really hampered by his lack of darkvision. He could not see as well enough to be totally effective. He did detect a pool of water and something moving near it.

Templeton heard something moving and waited, holding very still. He saw a large shape moving in the darkness for but a moment. Outside, the party saw something large and winged making a bee line for the cave entrance. Puck sent Widget in to warn Templeton. Templeton made his way quietly out of the cave until at last he emerged into the light. In full Han Solo fashion he stepped on a dried bone and SNAP – it made a loud noise.

A huge humanoid looking creature came out of the cave and started yelling at Templeton as he ran for cover and a good hiding spot. It became clear that it was a big nasty hill giant toting a huge club and a big rock for hurling. Right behind him was a huge Manticore.

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Seeing the jig was up, the party tried to close the distance to get closer to Templeton and the cave. Kareep picked up Puck and flew fast using his haste ability granted to him by The Revenant. Quintus ran as fast as he could but his full plate armor and the difficult terrain slowed him down. They saw the large form bearing down on them was a second manticore.

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The battle was spread over a huge area. With Templeton hiding and sniping the hill giant with his heavy crossbow bolts, Puck hurling fireballs, and Kareep hurling lightning javelins, and Quintus running to try and get into the fight. The hill giant and manticore readied attacks to get Templeton but he managed to use his minor illusion to make an image of himself pop up in a different location. The two were fooled and attacked in the wrong spot. Kareep did not fair as well. During the battle he was riddled with Manticore Spikes and smashed with several hurled rocks from the giant. Eventually he went down and began to bleed to death. Quintus was still way too far away to help. But Templeton managed to work his way close enough to deliver a potion of healing to Kareep using his arcane legerdemain. Originally Templeton wanted to use his healer’s kit, but needed a full action to do so. In his excitement to put down the escaping manticore, he fired his crossbow and was unable to administer the healer’s kit before Kareep would have died. The potion of healing barely saved the bird man’s life.

With the battle finished and the hill giant and 2 manticores slain, the party took refuge in their cave and took an extended rest. Searching the hill giant lair they found some odd coinage that amounted to 50 GP. They also explored the cave finding a pool of water. Templeton used his mage hand to move his continual light stone through the water to light up what lay below the surface. Templeton found an old sack which he fished out using his mage hand. The sack contained 3 rubies (50 gp each), a larger red gem, and two potions. Puck identified them as an* Earth Elemental Gem*, Potion of Greater Healing, and a Potion of Water Breathing. Templeton claimed the elemental gem and the Greater Healing Potion while Quintus claimed the Potion of Water Breathing. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

The next day they searched northeast to another cave. Inside they found some dead hippogriff eggs. To the northeast they found some dead gnolls – clearly slain by the giant and manticores. On the other side of the river, they found a group of dead Aarokokra. Quintus used his speak with dead spell the next morning to see if the aarokokra could answer any of our questions.

Quintus gently gathers the body of the least malled Aarakocra and sits quietly in front of it for a short time. He then stands and walks slowly around the body, crafting a circle in the dirt to hold the spirit’s essence in place for the short time of the spell. Breaking the quiet, Quintus ends by calling loudly for the spirit to manifest.

Within moments, a wispy form rises from the center of the circle, only vaguely identifiable as a humanoid form. Then, as if from all around you, a soft voice calls. “You have called. I will speak.”

Quintus then calmly asks the first question, “What were you and your clan doing here in the Sighing Valley?”

After a moments pause, the voice calls again. “We sought a disturbance in the Balance.”

Quintus then asks the second question, “Where is your Aarakocra lair located where we can find more of your kin?”

“Our home is not yours to find.”

With a somewhat furrowed brow, Quintus asks the third question, “What do you know about the monks that are in a cave in a canyon to the North?”

“They foolishly seek to own the Wind as one of your kind seeks to own gold, for power and control.”

Quintus asks the fourth question, “Is there another entrance to the cave other than through the defile from the valley, and if so, where is it?”

The spirit answers, “Perhaps. We suspect that Wind is connected to Flame is connected to Wave is connected to Stone.”

Quintus then asks the final question, “Where is the gnoll lair located?”

The spirit almost seems to shrug, “Irrelevant.”

The spirit then begins to fade as the magic ceases. However, just before the spirit is gone completely, the spirit turns its gaze from Quintus towards Kareep and has some final words, “This path will be like a storm for you, brother. Do not forget your purpose. There may be times when you will come crosswise with comrades. Do not falter.”

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Scarlet Moon Hall Revealed
Shooting Fish in a Barel

The battle raged on between the party and the last of the Circle of The Scarlet Moon. The mephits used their smoke belching ability to hide their master’s movements and spellcasting and also to directly blind Kareep and Puck. Elizar continued to pound the party with very powerful magics including nailing Puck with a moisture draining spell that left him shriveled up like a processed gelfling. Kareep managed to stabilize Puck as Quintus and Templeton managed to reach out and touch Elizar with ranged attacks. Templeton chased Elizar up the scaffolding of the tower and back down again. While Kareep used one of Puck’s healing potions on Puck to bring him back into the fight. Apparently Elizar had some ability that allowed him to see through the smoke which he used to great effect om eluding pursuit. But eventually his luck ran out and the party cornered him and he finally fell. Puck found a Dagger+1 on Elizar, which he tucked in his belt for safe keeping. A quick search of everyone else yielded 97 GP.

With everything quiet but the tower still yet explored, wounds needed healing. So a 1 hour rest was taken and hit dice were cashed in. When everyone was ready to go, Templeton led the way sneaking into the tower. He found multiple levels connected by rickety stairs and many sections where the floor had given in.

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Five little magmen played around on the bottom of the tower merrily burning away at the huge debris pile that had fallen there. Bypassing those the upper levels were home to some of cult guards and leaders who were now all dead. The only thing of value amongst their belongings was a small chest with 250 GP, 2 fire opals (50 gp each) and a scroll of flame arrows. Templeton took the scroll and the Master Party Treasure List was updated.

The top of the tower was home to 5 large bats. Those were left behind but Kareep could not abide those magmen as they are from the elemental plane of fire. Kareep hates elementals with a passion. Using ranged weapons the party reigned down destruction upon the hapless creatures. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.

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Battle for Scarlet Moon Hall

The party focused all of its fire on the fire elemental. Kareep managed to put out the flames on the fallen Quintus and then went toe to toe with the elemental getting good protection from his Ring of Fire Resistance. Templeton used his mage hand to pour a potion of healing down the throat of Quintus. With Quintus back up and everyone focusing their fire on the elemental, he finally went down. That left only two cult guards. Templeton put a crossbow bolt through one of their necks, felling him and chased the other up the scaffolding and into the tower. Before Templeton could climb all the way up the scaffolding, a flaming dwarf came out of the tower and jumped down to attack him.

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The creature was an Azer, a creature from the elemental plane of fire whose skin was always ablaze. He had a huge hammer which he proceeded to swing mightily against Templeton who uncannily dodged his way away to safety. The guard came back out too and was raining crossbow bolts down on us. The Azer was pounding on Quintus with his hammer. It was a tough fight but eventually Puck finished things with his gust of wind spell, blowing the guard and the Azer right off the scaffolding to fall to their death against the cold hard ground.

They were dealt with and the party faced a choice. They were badly hurt with no more healing magic. They could either enter the tower or try to take an hour long rest. They chose the latter, hunkering down in some of the tents that had been set up around the tower. Widget flew around keeping guard.

Forty minutes into the rest, Widget saw a guard come out of the tower. He looked around and saw the dead bodies that had been left on the ground. He ran back into the tower. He returned with another guard and the fire druid, Elizar. Elizar quickly took charge and ordered the guards to look around for intruders. He immediately went over to examine the burning wicker giant. Because the fire elemental had been slain, the fire was dying. Elizar cursed that the ritual had been spoiled.

The cultists looked around for 10 minutes but never once thought to look into the tents. After the rest was complete, the party emerged and got the jump on them. During the battle, Elizar summoned a collection of smoke mephits, creatures from the elemental plane of fire. They surrounded Kareep and spat out gouts of smoke which obscured a large area. Kareep flew straight up and out of the smoke but the winged mephits gave chase. Elizar created a wall of fire cutting off most of the party. It was tricky getting around it. Elizar also cast a nasty spell which sucked the moisture right out of Kareep, doing nasty damage.

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Puck again used his gust of wind spell to great effect. He blew away the smoke caused by the mephits and forced the flying mephits up and away from the battle.

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The Rite of the Wicker Giant

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The battle with the remaining warg and female fire cultist was finished quickly with Kareep keeping the light on the cultist and Templeton shooting her with deadly bolts from Sky Piercer. Quintus cut down the warg with his enchanted greatsword. With everyone being hurt badly, a quick search of the bodies was conducted as the party moved to a camp site with some frightened druids. The werewolf bodies had 20 GP and the bugbears had 55 gp and 42 sp. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

The legitimate druids who had come for the rite of the wicker giant were scared and confused by the violence. Templeton Daltrey approached them cautiously and explained the situation with the fire cult. He warned them that they had been deceived and that this rite was for the fire cult and NOT druidic in nature. After some back and forth they were convinced and decided they wanted no part in this conflict. They joined together with the other remaining druids and rangers and left with their elk.

The party hunkered down in the abandoned camp site for 10 minutes while Quintus tried to cast a mass healing spell. Before the spell was complete 2 more female fire cultists came down to investigate from the keep. Templeton and Widget spotted them and were able to direct the party to sneak back to a camp site a bit further on and avoid engaging with them until the mass heal spell was complete. This was successful and after everyone was healed, the 2 fire cultists were attacked and slain with crossbow bolts, javelins, gnome magic, and the wrath of Tempus.

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Widget then flew around the keep and examined the wicker giant. It was a huge giant made of wicker. It was burning brightly but it did not seem to be consuming any of the fuel. The keep consisted of some outer walls on varying states of disrepair and a tall main tower supported in places by some scaffolding. Three cult guards with crossbows were on patrol and 2 hell hounds prowled the far side.

Kareep flew Templeton up into place hiding in the dark behind one of the walls. Kareep then attached Puck and flew up into the air. Quintus moved up the path on his own.

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The hell hounds were struck first with Kareep hurling his javelin of lightning. The hounds were badly damaged by the surprise attack which also included some deadly crossbow bolts flying in from Templeton and some magic by Puck to freeze them in their tracks. One hell hound went down quickly while the other ran towards Quintus.

During the battle one of the cult guards waved his hands in front of the burning wicker giant. A huge fire elemental emerged and smashed into Quintus catching him on fire and knocking him down. Puck’s ice magic did little to slow it down. The hell hounds and 1 guardsman were destroyed but 2 cult guards and 1 fire elemental remained with Quintus down, bleeding to death, and on fire.

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Investigating the Camp Sites

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Using Kareep’s pass without trace magic, the party was able to sneak around and observe 4 out of the 6 cap fires below the Fire Keep. Knowing that we were marked men, Templeton used his disguise self magic and cloaked himself in the guise of an old human man in robes with a staff. Widget landed on his shoulder and the two stepped out into each circle of light in turn and asked questions of those camping out in the area.

The first circle included a chained up bear and a couple of women in robes who claimed to be druids. They were apparently at the site to participate in the Bonfire Rite being put on by The Circle of The Scarlet Moon, a local druid organization. The chained and injured bear and their words did not quite add up. Templeton moved on to the next group not finding out anything more than he knew already.

The next group was 4 druids dancing around a fire with elk standing in the background. They stopped their chanting to speak with Templeton. He did not overtly claim t be a druid but the druids assumed as much. They spoke to him in a language that he did not understand (most likely druidic). When Templeton said he did not understand their speech, the druids politely ended the conversation and went back to their chanting no longer interested in him.

Next Templeton spoke with the priest. He was with 2 druids but was separate and seemed a bit out of place. When Templeton was speaking to him he flashed a strange signal. Templeton attempted to flash it back. They then went off to speak in private, away from the 2 druids. The symbol flashed was that of the water cult but Templeton misinterpreted it as the fire cult symbol. So when they were alone he spoke of the hell hounds and their attack on the inn. The water cultists was confused. It seems that this priest was a spy from the water cult. When both men realized the other was not who they thought, the two traded spells against each other. Templeton tried a quick charm person spell that failed to affect the priest and Templeton was hit by a spell which he managed to save for no effect as well. Templeton then shrugged and shot the priest point blank with a crossbow bolt. Kareep then flew out of the darkness to stab the priest with his lance. The priest ran off into the light of the druids asking for their help when another of Templeton’s crossbow bolts came flying out of the darkness to catch him in the back of the neck and send the priest sprawling face first into the dirt by the campfire. He did not get up. The two druids went to him to see if they could help, keeping a wary eye out into the darkness but they found his wounds beyond their ability to heal.

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An alarm of sorts had been raised, however, the two scruffy looking men we had avoided talking to began to transform into werewolves. The two of them ran through the dark to attack. Puck, tired of all the sneaking around, decisively unleashed a fireball spell on the werewolves burning them badly and closing the door on any kind of subterfuge. Templeton moved around the werewolves to hide in an illusory rock of his own devising. From there he began unleashing deadly shots from Sky Piercer, his enchanted heavy crossbow, knowing that enchanted weapons were needed to pierce the lycanthrope’s hide.

As the battle with the werewolves raged on, the 2 female druids we first talked to came into view and each unleashed a fireball on the group. It hurt… a lot. Templeton zeroed in on one of the women from his hiding spot inside the illusory rock and let go a shot from Sky Piercer that caught her right in the eye and came out the back of her head. She was dead before she hit the ground. The other female ran back into the shadows while all the druids simply tried to stay back out of the fight. Kareep flew over and landed near the woman to try and keep her in sight and cut off her escape.

The last werewolf went down but not before 2 bugbears riding wargs came riding in to attack.

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The situation was very much in a serious state. Puck was able to cast his blur spell and draw most of the fire from the bugbears and wargs until Quintus hacked them up and Templeton sniped them with crossbow bolts. Both bugbears were slain along with 1 of the wargs. One of the female cultists and 1 of the wargs remained but Puck was out of most of his spells, everyone was badly hurt and a whole lot of everything had gone to hell.

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Bay of The Hell Hounds

The Four finally returned to Red Larch. It was late and they went straight to The Swinging Sword Inn for a huge meal and some well earned rest. After finishing the meal there was a strange noise – a yell from someone outside and then a scream. Suddenly 4 Hell Hounds burst through different windows of the inn and breathed powerful gouts of flame out of their maws. 8 poor townsfolk in the Inn were incinerated by the flames and many tables, chairs, walls and ceilings were engulfed in flame. The Hell Hounds seemed to key in on party members as their quarry because they ignored the remaining townsfolk to focus on attacking the party.

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The party battled the hell hounds as the fire spread. Templeton created an illusory cupboard on the wall into which he stealthily sneaked in order to hide inside it and carefully aim deadly crossbow fire into the hell hounds. Puck was surrounded by hell hounds so he teleported away and sought cover behind the bar with Kaylessa Irkell, the owner and her barkeep. The other two promptly fled via a side door and left Puck alone behind the bar.

Between Kareep’s lance attacks, the great sword of Quintus, and the deadly sniping of Templeton, 2 of the Hell Hounds were slain. The other two fought on until they were both wounded and then one of them let out a baleful moan and they fled the battle, leaping out through a broken window. Templeton and Kareep gave chase but they could not keep up with the speedy hounds who sped off into the night. Kareep noted their trail, however, and could clearly make out their tracks and signs of their blood. He made a mental note of where it was so that they could be tracked later.

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Meanwhile Puck and Quintus were trying really hard to get the fire in the Inn under control. Puck used his Gust of Wind Spell to extinguish some of the fires. He also used his thunderwave magic to move the fire into concentrated areas that he could try and extinguish with his gust of wind. Quintus grabbed one of the dead Hell Hounds by the collar and swung him about the room trying to put out flames when he noticed the collar had a symbol of the Fire Cult on it. Quintus took the collar as evidence. Quintus then grabbed a huge cask of Ale from behind the bar and sloshed it over some sections of fire, putting them out. Templeton raised the alarm and organized townsfolk to form a bucket brigade.

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It was a valiant effort but the fire was too large and out of control to contain. The Swinging Swords Inn burned to the ground. Kareep felt bad for Kaylessa Irkell and gave her 40 GP of his own funds. He pledged to help rebuild The Swinging Sword Inn. The rest of the party did likewise and vowed to return and help rebuild.

The sooty and exhausted party split up to find a place to rest. Quintus went to the The Allfaiths Shrine, Puck and Kareep went to Haeleeya’s bathouse, and Templeton of course returned to The Dripping Candelstick brothel to take a bath with some nice young ladies.

Puck checked in with his Emerald Enclave contact Haeleeya and discovered there was a group nearby called The Circle of The Scarlet Moon. They claim to be a group druids who will be performing a bonfire rite soon. The Emerald Enclave is quite familiar with the druidic orders of the area and has never heard of this group. The Enclave would like Puck and Kareep to investigate it.

After an evening of getting clean, getting to know some new young ladies, and getting some well needed rest, the group came back together and met up at Feng Ironhead‘s shop to see if he had finally completed Kareep’s special javelins. They were indeed ready. Feng had made 6 working javelins with a vial of acid attached near the tip. They cost 50 GP each and Kareep bought all 6. On a hit they do Javelin damage of 1d4+STR bonus and an additional 2d6 acid damage. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

The Four then went to the location of wear Kareep had seen the hell hound tracks. Kareep tracked them to a forested valley – the same area where the Circle of The Scarlet Moon was supposed to be located. Widget did a flyover and found a large keep with a huge effigy of a man on fire. Also there were cages in the keep courtyard containing hell hounds. Many other fires around tents and camp sites were burning brightly as well. All the fires created a large amount of smoke which hung in the valley and obscured vision.

Kareep also cast his Primeval Awareness spell. He put his ear down to the earth and listened. He told everyone that he could sense Fey, Elementals, and Fiends all within this area. The Four grit their teeth. This would not be easy.

Since it was dark, there was a lot of smoke, and we were using Kareep’s Pass Without Trace Spell, it was easy to sneak up on the smaller camp fires and check them out. Four individual cap sites were reconnoitered. The first had 4 human druids chanting and dancing around a fire. The second had 2 human druids and bear. Two human men talking about The Bonfire Rite seemed pretty excited about it. The final fire was occupied by 3 sleeping humans and a human male priest of some kind.

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