Apocalyptica

We Have a Hobbit Problem

Kareep feels the red fade from his vision as the battle with the halflings comes to a close. He looks down and sees Wiggin Nettlebee, an aged halfling with grievous wounds covering his chest and face. Kareep takes a deep breath, kneels down and touches the halfling, hoping for some life left… but he finds none. Kareep shakes his head, partially in shame, partially in confusion at these featherless humanoids who seem bent on destruction.

Kareep stands and quickly moves to the remains of the younger hobbit, Wiggin’s son, where the bolt of lightning struck him down. Though the halfling’s body is charred across his chest and left arm, it does seem to be taking shallow breaths as it fights for life. Kareep quickly administers some basic first aid, stabilizing the halfling for the moment. He does know that if the halfling is to be brought back from unconscious, time itself will be insufficient and magic will likely have to be invoked.

Certain the halfling will survive for a bit but not wanting to move the hobbit lest he tip the scale towards death, Kareep returns to the entrance of the burrow mound and begins the lengthy task of beginning to remove debris from the cave in.

After 30 minutes, Kareep can hear the sounds of moving skree from the other side and, likewise, the rest of the party can hear Kareep doing work as well. Some muted yelling of glad tidings that everyone seems to be alive invigorates the efforts and within another 20 minutes, a small hole is finally visible. Clearly, only a while longer remains for an opening to sufficiently sized for passage.

However, Kareep hears from behind him, approaching quickly, the sound of feet and hoofbeats. He turns around just in time to see a band of twelve barbarians with two riders on horseback, presumably Uthgardt barbarians, breaking through the treeline and approaching the barrow mound.

The barbarians close the gap rapidly and form up in a semicircle in front of the barrow, with Kareep standing there not quite knowing their intention. Though they do have their eye on Kareep, he does not seem to be the focus of their attention initially. They stand gawking at the destruction of the barrow mound.

One of the riders, her forehead marked with a tatoo of elk horns, dismounts. She says, “My daughter’s vision was true! The destruction is real.” She then focuses her eyes directly on Kareep with her hand on the hilt of her sword. “Are you responsible for this desecration, bird man?! Speak or be slain where you stand!”

Kareep is about to move into a defensive position himself when a deep, echoed voice speaks through the small opening into the barrow mound. The Revenant speaks, “Hold, youngling.” And the glow of the Revenant seeps through the opening as its body shifts through the small opening, re-forming in the open air.

In awe, the barbarian woman drops to her knees before the Revanant and her fellows follow her lead. She looks up and speaks, “We come to see you avenged, ancient one!”

The Revenant nods with grim approval. “This one here,” pointing to Kareep, “is not responsible for the desecration. That one is!”, and the Revenant points to the bloody body of the halfling, Wiggin Nettlebee. The Revanant then closes his eyes for a moment, “Yet there is one more who still lives…” He slowly turns his head in the direction of Wiggin’s son, the charred but living halfling, and he points to him.

The Revenant turns his body towards the living halfling and begins to stride in its direction…

Suddenly Templeton puts his face to the small opening of the tomb and says, “Ah… excuse me… Ancient One? I too share your desire for vengeance upon these foul hobbits for desecrating your hallowed resting place. But are you so certain it was only these two that were involved? Perhaps if we tend to this youngling’s wounds long enough for him to regain consciousness, we could interrogate him and discover if there were any other individuals involved. It would be a terrible crime not to reap vengeance upon all defilers of this tomb.”

Kareep stands tall and proud in the face of the spirit and the Barbarians. “The youngling was duped by the elder, I would like to administer healing and question him in time. My comrades and I came to investigate cultists and it led us here. The dead hobbit summoned an elemental and trapped my friends inside. Please, let me heal the child and then I ask your aid in clearing the passage and returning the burial mound to its proper state. What do you say horse rider?”

Templeton pipes up again, “Well we are not so sure that the youngling is without guilt as my bird man friend has said,but it would be a shame not to see if he has any additional information. As I said before there may be more who need to pay for this desecration. Please allow him to tend to the boy and help us get out of here so we can help set everything right.”

Kareep frowns. “Pay no attention to the man in the hole. Now let me heal the child and help me clear the blocked passage.”

The Revenant pauses for a moment to consider Kareep’s words. Then he looks directly into the Aarakocra’s eyes. “What is it that leads you to believe the young halfling was coerced by this one here? I see no such evidence,” pointing to the older hobbit’s corpse.

“Irregardless, I know that the young one was equally involved in the desecration of my barrow. Justice will be mine. Now.” And the Revenant begins to walk again towards the younger hobbit.

Templeton then speaks up through the small opening in the barrow’s obstruction. The Revenant does not look in Templeton’s direction as it responds while walking to the younger halfling, “You know not what you say. I know who performed this foul work.” In response, Puck leans over to Templeton and calmly comments that the Revenant’s very existence is innately and magically linked to the perpetrators of the desecration. He unerringly knows who did the deed.

The Revenant arrives at the stabilized body of the younger halfling and prepares to kill him.

Puck will exclaim, “Revenant! Please! I know that you cannot rest until the hobbit is killed. But, please, stay your hand until we have had an opportunity to question the hobbit. Do us that favor as we aided you in your quest for solace, did we not? We are on a quest to fight a great primordial evil and he may have information that is vital to that quest.” Puck drops his voice a level and says, “will you not help?”

Quintus yelled through the hole, ""Yo! Wait a second dude.I have suggestion. If the little shit was involved, perhaps we could put him ta work redeemin and rebuild what he and the other short f*kers f*ked up. We could ask these kind gentlemen to make sure as shit it gets done."

With his pale hand upon the halfling’s throat, the Revenant pauses. “Aside from the death of these defilers, there is one more task that needs to be completed before I rest. These halfling’s took the sacred treasure with which I was buried. Perhaps he can tell me where the treasure is…”

He stands up and looks at Kareep. “Bring him back from the edge of death. I wish to speak with him.” Kareep, you see a momentary flash of something in the Revenant’s eyes that frightens you to your core.

Kareep looks down at the charred hobbit with a mixture of pity and anger. He leans over, speaks a few gentle words and many of the burns on the hobbit’s body fade into scars.

As the hobbit regains consciousness, he gazes around, disoriented and uncertain what is happening. Kareep bends down to one knee to have the hobbit focus on him so he can ask questions. Just as Kareep begins to speak, however, the hobbit glances over Kareep’s shoulder to the figure of the Revenant standing calmly behind Kareep. A look of unadulterated horror forms on the hobbit’s visage, illuminated by a distant, pale glow. His mouth opens wide, as if to scream, but no sounds emerge. The skin of of the hobbit’s face begins to pucker and tighten, losing all color. Then the hobbit’s eyes open disturbingly, almost impossibly, wide, his pupils dilating to eclipse all but a halo of white. And he stops any sort of movement. In fact, for a moment, Kareep is uncertain whether the hobbit still lives, he sees no breath or even a sliver of facial twitch, but then there is a subtle, shallow inflation of the hobbit’s chest.

Kareep rotates his head to see the Revenant behind him. The flash of fear Kareep felt a moment previous returns. The Revenant’s eyes seem to draw Kareep in. The eyes are like the pits of hell, empty of all hope, full of fury and pain. For a moment, Kareep begins to lose himself in the fear, but he shakes his head and looks away, taking a moment to recover himself.

The Revenant speaks to the hobbit, “Where is my sword? Where is my helmet? Where are my totems?”

In a whisper almost too faded to hear, the hobbit breathes, “In the basement…”

With an imperceptible nod, the Revenant releases the hobbit from his gaze and looks to Kareep, “You may have two minutes with the hobbit before I destroy him.” The hobbit’s head falls to his chest and he starts to shake and shudder as if from a deep cold. When he slowly looks up, with deep trepidation, Kareep is shocked to see the young hobbit looks like he has aged decades. His face is pale and wrinkled. His eyes droop with palsy. He is in a very, very poor state.

Without blinking Kareep turns his gaze from the Revenant to what was once a boy. For a moment he thinks of doing something rash, but looks at the Hobbit and realized a touch from the creature behind him could send him to the grave.

“You have angered this ancient spirit, if you tell me the truth I will do my best to protect your kin in yonder valley. Why did you and your father (pointing to the corpse) desecrate this barrow? (1) Are there other fire cultists and where are they located? (2) Are you responsible for the brand of the Fire Cult on the livestock? (3)

May whatever gods you worship bless your soul…"

The hobbit looks at you with a hollow despair and with a voice like dry leaves rasps, “I… we… please, please don’t let it hurt my family! Please! They didn’t know…”

Kareep asks, “Why did you and your father desecrate the barrow?”

The young hobbit slowly turns his head, cracking the desiccated skin on his neck and face, and he sees his father’s body for the first time. Tears come to his eyes and whispers, “Oh, father, what have we done?” He slowly turns his face back to Kareep, “I… we… burned the barrow for you. It was a trap… There were rumors of a small group with a bird man who was wreaking havoc. When we heard the Abbess had been killed, my father was furious. Our… dealings had been so lucrative with the Abbess… information and power of the over the earth to help us farm… deep understandings of the way things work in the soils…

“My father, he wanted to kill you. He thought we could do it luring you to the barrow. But this? This was not worth it. It was the deepest folly… Oh, gods. Save my family! Please! It was only my father and me!”

Kareep asks, “Are there other fire cultists and where are they located?”

“I… fire cultists? No, no, you don’t understand. The fire cultists are in the Sumber Hills, they are not here. We… pretended.”

Kareep asks, “Are you responsible for the brand of the Fire Cult on the livestock?”

The hobbit drops his head in shame, “Yes… it was my idea… I thought it would help sell the story. My father’s idea was to torch the barrow. He didn’t know… he can’t have known.. what would happen. Gods. Please. Kill me! Please kill me now! Please!” Weeping and leaning forward with his last strength the hobbit pleads a final time, “Don’t let it have me! Gods… the terror. I’m so sorry! Please!”

Kareep tries to sneak in a fourth question. “Are the relics in your father’s basement? Is anyone or anything protecting them?”

“Yes, the basement, behind a… AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” And then complete and empty silence. The Revenant had walked up, grabbed the hobbit’s throat and gazed into its eyes, seemingly pulling the life from the frail body until all that remains is an empty husk. Just as Kareep turns his back and walks away, so does the Revenant.

The Revenant then looks to the barbarians who have been watching in stony silence. Though they are hardened warriors, though, most quickly hide a look of revulsion and fear. Many even take a subtle step backwards as the Revenant approaches them.

“Go. Retrieve my relics so that I may rest once more.” The barbarians come to attention look at each other and everyone can see that a bloodlust starts to rise. The female barbarian, the apparent leader, speaks, “As you will, ancient one. We will kill them all in your name! It will be a story that is told again and again so that none disturb another barrow! Let’s ride!”

Templeton pipes up from the hole. “Oh Mighty Ancient One, we fought side by side together against the earth elemental. And if it wasn’t for our friend Kareep, the perpetrators of this vile act would most likely have escaped. He was able to lay them both low and save the youngling for your vengeance. Please do not deny us the honor of going to help retrieve your relics. Please have your brethren help Kareep dig us out and we will go together to retrieve your relics.”

Puck will yell, “NO! You will do no such thing. We will retrieve your relics but you,” Puck pointing to the female barbarian, “will harm no one. Your lord’s revenge against those who defiled his resting place have been destroyed. All of the remaining people in that homestead are innocents. If you harm them, you will have to answer to us and you do not want that barbarian!” Puck will use his cantrip Minor Image to cloak himself in some subtle dark flame.

As the others scream from the hole Kareep turns again and looks right at the female leader and the Revenant. “Revenant, I beg that you ask your people (pointing to the barbarians) to hold their hand. There has been enough bloodshed and we already have spoken to the villagers and I know exactly where the basement is that the spoke of. Please let my friends and I find and retrieve your relics without further bloodshed.”

He looks with his big eyes at the female. “Will you not spare the innocent that were not involved in this charade?”

The Revenant looks to Kareep and raises a hand slightly, pausing the barbarians, “It is true that the family is innocent. I would know otherwise. Yet why is it that you care, Aarakocra? As my brethren here suggest, the destruction of the homestead would serve to provide a message to leave our barrows unmolested. Why should I sacrifice this opportunity?”

“I will be honest with you spirit, I was surprised at the old halflings intentions. I read that Hobbits were a kind and gentle folk and I think that may still hold true. It was greed that let this one to do what he did.” pointing to the old hobbit. “I think we both need to give them a chance as they are but farmers and shepherds.” He blinks and goes on. “My friends in the crypt are very clever and will have the relics back in your possession in a matter of hours if not sooner.”

“You are merely repeating your previous platitudes, Aarakocra. You have not answered my question. I will ask only one more time. Why should I spare the innocents when their death will serve a greater purpose… to tell a story of terror that will prevent others from desecrating our barrow mounds?”

“You are obviously incapable of empathy spirit as violence will only bring more violence. What I am saying is that if you spare the village I will parade these corpses around and spread the tale of your mercy. If your people kill everyone and burn their homesteads they will be to blame not you. Their families will be targeted by nasty hobbit spies and killed in their sleep, continuing a never ending Pattern of violence. I plead with you to spare their lives. Do what you will as I have nothing else to say about the matter.”

Templeton pipes up again from the hole. “I have something else to say on the matter. Those innocent hobbits are farmers. They are simple folk. They know nothing of weapons or battle. The Uthgardt are a proud people of warriors. Why would you sully your name and legacy by slaughtering weak and innocent halflings? They pose no threat to anyone. Killing them does not provide honor or prove your skill in battle. It only leaves a legacy of weakness. Only the weak prey upon the weak. Those responsible for this crime have been punished. We will ensure this tale is told throughout the Dessarin Valley. Only a fool would want to molest your barrow after hearing the fate that befell these two hobbits that lay dead at your feet. Help us get out of this hole and we will get the relics back and restore your barrow to its pristine state."

To be clear, the Revenant can easily hear everyone – that is clear to all. It just chose to ignore Templeton and Puck in the last part as Kareep was the most intimately involved and if the Revenant has respect for anyone outside the barbarians, it seems to be Kareep.

Also, to be clear, it won’t take but another 20 minutes of clearing for the tunnel to be open. In fact, you could have continued clearing during the last 5 minutes of time so I’ll assume you all continued so there is only 15 minutes of clearing left.

The Revenant speaks, "I have no specific desire for innocents die unnecessarily. I do have a desire never to be disturbed again once I return to rest, however. If I hold my brethren and allow you to return my relics without harming the hobbits, then there will forever be a mantle upon you. Choose it carefully. If anyone disturbs my barrow again, in addition to ending those directly involved, I will hold you all responsible, for now and forever. And I will hunt you to extinction. If you no longer live and the barrow is disturbed in the future, the debt would yet be paid by your children or your children’s children. I will hunt them instead. It is a burden your progeny will carry forever. Carry this story far and wide. Now and to generations in the future. Then I will be satisfied.

“And lest you think the agreement can be ended here by somehow confronting all of us and destroying these good folk,” pointing to the barbarians, “and my current manifestation, know that even if you somehow overcame us, tomorrow I would return to hunt you. And if again you were to overcome me, again, the day after that I would return.. to the end of time I would hunt you every day. One day I would best you. And if I did not, then on the day of your first born I would be there to destroy them. And on and on…”

“Do we have an understanding? Are the lives of a few innocent hobbits worth this burden? Choose now.”

At first, while the Revenant speaks, the barbarians seem to be holding in their disappointment and frustration at potentially being held back. By the end, however, they are eerily quiet and look upon you all with pity.

At the end of the Revenant’s proclamation, Puck stands there, shaking somewhat. He knows the Revenant is capable of such continued manifestations. He knows the Revenant speaks the truth.

Kareep speaks up immediately, “I will take the entire burden squarely in my shoulders spirit. Let them live (pointing to the village) and we will find your relics and seal this mound for all eternity.”

The Revenant looks Kareep directly in the eyes when Kareep responds. Upon finishing the statement of his commitment, the Revenant’s eyes seem to flash in acceptance.

The Revenant then moves and seeps through the crack once more and confronts each of you directly to ascertain the same commitment. Each of you must look into his eyes and agree.

“Gnome, do you agree?”
“Man of faith, do you agree?”
“Slippery one, do you agree?”

Quintus scratched the stubble on his chin and said, “Shit, as I see it there’s no downside. I gets ta protect the little f’rs and if they screw up I get ta have a fight every day, Ahm in.”

Puck and Templeton both frowned and looked at each other with dark knowing glances. Neither of them thought this was a good deal but saw little choice in the matter at the current point in time.

Puck gritted his teeth and said “Yes, I agree.”

Templeton shuffled his feet and looked around the cave as if trying to find a way out but eventually nodded his head, “Yes, I agree.”

The Revenant nods firmly. “It is done. Be back in the morning with my relics.” It slips back through the cave entrance and faces the barbarians. “Please make yourselves at home for the moment. We shall share stories and see what has changed since I was young.”

Kareep turns to the lead female Barbarian… “What is your name woman?”

As she turns to sit in a circle with her brethren and the Revenant, the female barbarian nods to Kareep. ‘I am called Fennor, bird man. You have been honorable and clear in your dealings. May your path be full.’ And she turns away.

The party spends the next 15 minutes getting everyone out of the barrow. You then gather the bodies of the halflings and make your way down to the homestead, arriving an hour after dark.

Kareep will carries the bodies down himself and says, “At some point my friends we will come back and make things right but now is not the time to discuss it. Templeton, please gather the Hobbits and explain what has happened to these two. We must get his books (Wiggin I think) and the relics the two of them stole from the burial mound.”

You can see the homestead is occupied and you can smell the waft of good food, fresh bread and cooking meat.

Templeton makes sure Kareep sets the bodies down somewhere out of view. Then he will knock.

Templeton hears the light walk of quick, halfling footsteps and the door opens. The young hobbit child opens the door. “Hi! You’re back!” He turns around and yells, “Their back, mama! The birdman and the others!”

From around the corner, Jayne comes into view and she shushes the child to the side, “Ignatius! Lower your voice! I’m right here.” Then she looks to you. “Well, you arrived just in time for dinner. I have some extra. Bertram and that old goat haven’t returned yet so they can just make their own dinner when they get home. Serves them right.”

Jayne opens the door and steps aside to let you enter. Inside you see Watson, whom you met previously, Ignatius, and two other young hobbits whose names you quickly learn are Darrow and Elisa. They all look excited to have you share their table.

Kareep come in and sits down on the floor without making a sound.

Templeton enters and says, “Good evening Mrs. Nettlebee. May I speak to you in private please? I need to tell you something very important.” Templeton will usher her into a private room or anyplace out of earshot of the other halfings.

Then he will continue, “I come with grave tidings indeed. My comrades and I investigated the Uthgardt Barrow. Just as young Watson had described it was broken into. We went in and found that not only had it been broken into but it had been desecrated with fire and ancient relics sacred to the Uthgardt had been stolen. We discovered that those responsible for this desecration of the site were your father-in-law Wiggan and his son. We learned that recently the two of them were involved in an evil cult of elemental earth magic. This particular cult has been killing folk, imprisoning innocents, and spreading its evil all through the Dessarin Valley. We have been fighting against this cult. It seems that your two relatives fell in with the cult because the entire fire witch story was a ruse to attract us to your farm and murder us for their cult leaders. They actually attacked us in the barrow and tried to seal us in the tomb forever. Their treachery was so great that the ancient Uthgardt Chief who was buried in that Barrow rose from the dead as a spirit to wreak his vengeance upon them.”

Templeton’s face grows very grave, “Wiggan and his son are dead. The ancient spirit called to his people. There are 12 Uthgardt barbarians up at the barrowmound with their undead ancestor. Although the perpetrators of the defilement are dead that has yet to appease the ancient spirit. If not for our efforts, the barbarians would have rode down here and slaughtered your entire family and probably many other nearby farms.”

Templeton’s face turns stern and angry, “Your foolish father in law and his idiot son has put your entire family in grave peril. We have negotiated a settlement to end the hostilities and put things to right. You and your family can be saved, but I will need your total cooperation to make it happen. I need to have your permission to search the entire house especially any rooms of Wiggin and his son and examine their papers and belongings. I also need to search your basement. I am looking for the ancient relics that Wiggin and his son stole from the ”/wikis/the-barrowmound" class=“wiki-page-link”> barrowmound. We need to return those relics to the barrow and seal it before the ancient spirit will finally rest and the Uthgardt barbarians will go home.”

Templeton’s face softens a bit and finishes, “I know this is difficult for you but we did manage to retrieve the bodies of Wiggin and his son. You can bury them in any fashion you like when this ugly business is finished but our first priority is saving the rest of your family and finding these relics. Our time grows short what say you?”

Throughout the retelling, Jayne’s emotions seem to swing from disbelief to anger to raw pain. When Templeton completes his tale, Jayne collapses on the stoop and begins to weep quietly.

“Bertram is dead! My husband…” Then she stands up and in a fury looks Templeton eye to eye, “How dare you accuse my husband of such… ugliness. Where’s your proof?!” And she points a sharp finger in your chest, Templeton?

Templeton stares down Jane Nettlebee. "Your husband tried to murder my friends and I. With his dying breath, Bertram confessed to everything but the undead spirit of the Uthgardt did not spare him. Additional proof will be in the documents of Wiggan and the stolen Uthgardt Artifacts that are in your basement. I will go and recover them now.

Templeton heads for the basement and begins a search. He is looking for a chest or container large enough to hold the artifacts. He will also look carefully for a secret trap door in the floor or a false wall board that might hide valuables. He asks Puck to cast detect magic and assist him as the artifacts may still carry some form of dweomer.

With a hard voice, Templeton describes Bertram’s attempt to kill the party. He then moves past her to enter the house to find the basement. When entering, Watson stands there and sees his mother weeping on the stoop. He gets in front of Templeton to stop him. “Hey, what’s going on? Mother? Are you ok?” At the moment, the situation looks like Watson is becoming very protective.

Templeton softens his posture and beckons to Watson, “As the oldest, you’d best come in and hear the news.” Again away from the ear shot of the younger one’s Templeton explains that his father Bertram is dead. He explains the treachery of Bertrand his father Wiggin and the terrible cult they were involved in. He also emphasizes again how great and immediate the danger is to Jane, Watson and the rest of their family. The Uthgardt will kill everyone here if they are not appeased. The relics that were stolen by Bertram and Wiggin are here in this house. Bertram said they were hidden in the basement. We must find them and bring them to the Uthgardt for the danger to pass. Templeton will do what he can to console the distraught woman and her son and persuade them that the time for grief is later after the danger has passed. They must pull themselves together for the sake of the children.

Over the next 20 minutes, Templeton and Kareep calm and convince Jayne and Watson that the story is true, at least in part. Jayne goes in and takes the children around the fireplace while Watson leads the group to Wiggan’s office in the basement.

After a little searching, Puck finds a niche in the flagstone floor that hides an iron chest. It is locked but Watson finds the key and opens it for everyone. Inside is the following.

- An ornate helmet made of leather, rope and bone. It combines a bear skull, deer antlers, and saber-toothed tiger’s lower jaw. It clearly looks very old and well made.

- An oiled hide wrapped around an ornate greatsword of ancient make. If you didn’t know better, you’d estimate it is of ancient dwarven origin. Perhaps Besilmer? The sword’s grip is bound in ancient leather that doesn’t look original and is marked with sequential notches. Bear claws are tied to the pommel.

- Four animal figurines the size of a large human fist. A bear carved of lapis lazuli, a tiger carved of red obsidian, an elk carved of banded agate, and a raven made of silver.

- A large pile of copper, silver, gold and platinum coins. Nine rose quartz crystals.

- An old sack with tattered designs of fields and fowl.

Upon seeing the helmet, sword and figurines, Watson slumps. These items confirm your story. “Take them.” He says and gently hands them to you. Under his breath, you hear Watson swearing. “Gods damn it, father. Grandfather what were you thinking?! Leaving your family with this burden?”

Templeton closes the chest and tucks it under his arm. He places a hand on Watson’s shoulder. “Watson, your father and grandfather made a terrible mistake. They got involved with evil folk and made bad choices. Please don’t let that happen to you or anyone else in your family. You’ve been given a second chance. Please use it wisely. Work hard on the farm. Live a good honest life and you will see it bear fruit. We intend to seal the barrowmound forever. Help spread the word far and wide of the terrible evil that befalls anyone who disturbs the Uthgardt mounds. We do not want this evil to walk again. In order to do that we need to be absolutely sure we have everything that was stolen. Can you think of anything else that has happened recently that was queer or struck you as odd. Did you notice any strange behavior from your father or grandfather? It might be helpful to read any journals or letters or documents they might have written lately. Do you know where you father or grandfather would have kept such things? Down here? In one of their rooms up stairs? Someone led your father and grandfather down the evil path of the earth cult and we intend to find out who they are and stop them from doing it to anyone else.”

Templeton looks through the items and is about to close the chest and take it all when Watson exclaims, “Hey, what are your doing? The chest is ours! You came for relics and you have them – take the sword, helmet and figurines. Everything else is ours… it’s what we have left out of all this….”

Kareep and Puck have been looking around for documents and such and you do find a desk with a bunch of notes and journals. However, once again Watson inserts himself. “Look, I get it. You want to see what history there might be in there… but so do I. I need to understand what’s going on. I am going to look at these while you are gone and you can look at them when you return. This spirit didn’t ask for journals, right? Give me some time. Please.”

Puck does discretely cast Detect Magic and sweeps the room and everything uncovered so far. Two items glow with magic. The silver raven and the old sack embroidered with images of farm and fowl. Puck discreetly casts identify on the items and finds the sack is a Bag of Holding. The raven is a Figurine of Wondrous Power. Puck will discreetly mention this in Elven to Templeton only.

Hmmm… Templeton’s spider sense is tingling a bit here. There is a chance that Watson may be involved with the cult and he is playing us for a chance to hide incriminating documents. Templeton will ask him directly if he knew anything about an earth cult and ask if he himself was involved. Insight 18+10 = 28.

Templeton asks whether Watson had anything to do with the cult. Watson responds with a wounded look in his eyes, “What? You’re asking me that now? Why would I risk my family? Gods…” Templeton’s insight check reveals that he believes Watson is innocent of the matter.

Afterwards Templeton will explain that we do not want to take any of the documents and we will leave them all behind for him to review himself but we need to review them before we return to the barrow. They may hold information about what exactly the halflings did to bring the spirit of the Uthgardt back from the grave. There might be some information that would help us put him to rest forever. Templeton sternly reminds Watson that he and his family are still in great danger and that he needs to follow our lead if he is to get his family out of this mess alive.

Templeton then says you are going to review the documents before you leave. Watson responds, “Fine. You read and I’ll read and we’ll change them around.” That being said, there are many, many journals. If you have a sense of urgency you will likely be unable to review all documents before needing to leave.

Templeton then says that they are going to take the entire chest. The spirit was intentionally very vague when telling us what was stolen and necessary to return to the barrow. We do not want to make a mistake and leave something vital behind. The spirit may still be looking for an excuse to destroy this farm in retribution. We will return whatever was not necessary to appease the spirit.

Finally, Templeton then firmly states he is taking the entire chest. Watson leaps up furiously and exclaims, “Are you telling me you don’t believe me? That’s our money! That’s our my great, great grandmother’s bag that has been handed down for generations,” pointing at the embroidered sack. “You will NOT take our things! I thought you were honorable! You’re just thieves, aren’t you? I don’t even know if I believe you anymore! What happened on the hill?!?”

Templeton looks right into the eyes of Watson and as he speaks his voice becomes audibly louder and more powerful. He gets closer to Watson and appears to be towering over him, ‘Watson Nettlebee do not take me for some Thief! I am not trying to rob you…’ Then Templeton seems to shrink back and his face softens, ‘…I am trying to help you…’

Templeton continues, ‘Coins? Old sacks? When are you going to wake up and realize what is going on here boy? Those are just things. You and the rest of your family are traversing a razor’s edge. Stray but a little and you will fall.’ Templeton looks at Watson very ominously, ’You will see for yourself what evil is up on that hill, boy. You and and your mother are coming with us back up to the barrowmound. You need to witness for yourself the terrible acts your father and grandfather committed. You need to see for yourselves what must be kept sleeping and never awoken again. You must spread the word of your tale of woe far and wide so that the barrow will never again be disturbed by anyone. If indeed nothing else in the chest is needed, you will get it back."

Watson is looking around with slightly crazed eyes. Everyone can clearly see that Watson is in a very difficult position. A group of adventurer strangers have just come to say that his father and grandfather are dead – by somebody else’s hands, but with no real proof of such. He is deeply grieving, realizing he is now the oldest in the family aside from his mother, and the same strangers are threatening to take all his family has in savings. And then forcibly saying he and his mother need to abandon the children as they are weeping from learning of the death of their father. No, Watson does not come outside with Kareep.

Watson grabs the chest from Templeton, pulls out the weapon, the helmet and the figurines and throws them to the ground. He then in a slow, cold voice, “Take them! These are not ours – but the rest of this is my family’s and you have no right them. Now you want to read my grandfather’s journals? Fine, read. But do so here while I read with you. I want to know what is here as much as you seemingly do. From this moment forward, though, you will treat me and my family with respect. I will have it no other way.”

Kareep looks Watson right in the eye and gets close. “You should count yourself lucky that we are fair. I will be waiting outside while you continue the investigation Templeton.” He goes outside and safeguards the bodies.

Quintus starts calmly and gets a little more irate as he talks…

Listen dude. I’m glad you found your sack, but let me point out sumthin here…
We could let the horde of f’n barbarians ride down and slaughter all of ya.
WE could have let the renevant make you his bitch and rain undead f’n horror on you and every one you have ever heard about.
Instead we took responsibility to protect all you little f’ers in return for your father and grandfather trying to f us over we told the thing in the mound that we would put out F’n lives and the lives of OUR F’n families on the line to protect and defend the LITTLE F’rs families that left us to die in that crypt.
Maybe we made a mistake in riskin our kin for yours BUT IT WAS THE RIGHT F’n DAMN THING TO DO! We are good people and we ain’t going to let you get screwed up the ass no matter how ungrateful or unworthy you are of our protection.
Show me you ACTUALLY have a pair and come and see what YOUR family did and WHAT we are risking to F’N protect you.
IF you don’t, well, I leave it in Tempus’s hands as we go an tell the creature that killed yer father that you choose to reject our attempt to pull your asses out of the fire…. If you choose to fight these things, I will give you the blessings of Tempus and let you prove yourself to Him.
Quintus will turn and walk out with Kareep.

After Quintus leaves, Puck simply stares daggers at Watson his eyes screaming disgust. He then turns his back on the little hobbit and leaves to join his friends outside.

Everyone walks out except Templeton and Templeton fumes and decides to distract himself by starting to review the documents that are at hand.

Templeton’s first impression, having great familiarity with, and perhaps great dislike of, financial ledgers, is that Wiggan, the “old goat”, was a very shrewd business man. The ledgers clearly document the amassment of a small fortune by a farmer’s standards at least approximately equivalent to the coinage and gems Templeton saw in the iron chest.

In addition, throughout the ledgers, there are numerous notes and references. With a focused hour of investigation, a rough narrative emerges. When the earth cultists started exploring the region, Wiggan took their money for information and occasional aid. However, Wiggan’s interest in the actual powers exhibited by the cultists becomes clear after a time. He seemingly got to know them and the earth powers intrigued him. There are multiple references for ideas on how control over the earth could facilitate better farming.

After a time, the relationship deepened when the cult “removed” some of Wiggan’s rivals in the area, and the cult leadership, Hellenrae specifically, assured Wiggan further wealth and influence as the cult’s influenced increased.

At some point, Wiggan began to share his collaboration and plans with his son, Bertram. There are explicit references to eventually pulling Watson into the fold at some point, but that “he wasn’t ready” and “Watson is too damn high-minded and noble”.

At the end of the notes, there is explicit reference to the cult reaching out to Wiggan to play a ruse on “the band of trouble-makers” who “wreaked havoc at the Sacred Stone Monastery.” They wanted Wiggan to play the “meek halflings” to lure the “trouble-makers” into a trap. Clearly, though, it was Wiggan’s idea to use the fire cultists as the means to deceive.

Throughout this review of documents, Watson has been reading and absorbing at the same rate. Clearly, he has a sharp mind. By the end of the hour, Watson is downcast and quiet.

Then he speaks, "I am sorry. I am sorry that my father and grandfather made… evil and foolish choices. Gods, what were they thinking. And I am sorry that you have been pulled into our family’s follies through no fault of your own. From what you say, you have sacrificed your future for ours with this barbarian Revenant. I don’t know what to say…

Templeton replies, “Well… hopefully that satisfies your need for evidence. You have been through a lot, Watson, but it is not over yet. Your trials have just begun. Next you must face the bodies or your father and your grandfather. Then you must face the Uthgardt Revenant himself. It will not be easy. The evil of the undead is difficult to understand. Prepare yourself as best you can. Please try and follow our lead. We have all sacrificed greatly to save you and your family and to be quite frank your behavior has made us all wonder if we made the right choice.

“I will come with you to the barrow. But my mother needs to stay here with the children. They cannot be left alone.”

Templeton replies, “That is fine. Please tell your mother where we are going.” Templeton gathers up the sword, the helmet, and the figurines and goes up stairs with Watson and then outside.

Watson then packs the iron chest back in its hole, walks upstairs to explain the situation to his mother and then says, “Let’s go.”

Templeton brings Watson over to the where the rest of the party is waiting by the bodies of his dead father and grandfather. “Look closely at your father’s corpse Watson. See the pale gaunt cracked skin, his eyes wide with terror. I know it is hard to believe but that is him. The evil that your family awoke from the barrowmound is capable of doing that to any of us. Look hard at the twisted lifeless husk that was once your father and understand that we must seal the barrowmound properly and never ever again disturb the rest of the evil that lies within. And we must tell the story of the Nettlebee Folly that was to disturb the barrowmound. This evil must never again walk in search of vengeance."

When Watson can stand no more, we will linger a bit longer and then finally depart for the barrowmound. Along the way Templeton will share his findings from the document review with the rest of the party.

As expected, upon seeing his father’s body Watson audibly gasps and cries out for a moment. With tears running down his already damp cheeks, Watson looks silently for a long while. Then he gently kneels down and kisses the forehead of his father’s corpse, “Rest in peace, father. I will do what I can… I know you did not see this end for you or for the family. I will make it right.” When Watson stands, his lips dusted white from the flaked flesh of his father’s corpse, he speaks, “Please help me move the bodies to the barn. I will bury them when I return,” and with a determined edge to his voice, “Now let’s go.”

You are all exhausted by now as you trudge under a half moon rising over the barrow hill. The mood is sour and quiet as you willfully travel back to an audience with the barrow king. The moon’s light is bright enough to let you walk slowly but safely over the next two hours. In the distance, the only sounds are the occasional hoot of a barred owl and the periodic rhythm of the barbarians’ chanting carried by the wind as the evening cold sinks into the valley.

When you arrive at the barrow, the barbarians sit quietly in a half-circle with the Revenant at its heart. They are waiting for you. Kareep steps up next to Templeton and quietly says, “Let me do it.” Templeton gladly hands the artifacts to him and whispers, “Be careful.”

Kareep approaches the Revenant who looks upon the objects in his feathered hands. The Revenant nods, making no sound, and gestures for Kareep to follow him. Looking a bit proud and a bit nervous, Kareep follows the Revenant into the fully cleared pathway back into the barrow mound. The glow of the phantom is sufficient for Kareep to see where he steps as he follows.

Inside the final chamber, the Revenant returns his bier and silently gestures for Kareep to place the objects in their places. Kareep carefully places the banded agate elk figurine on the alter with carved antlers. He then walks to the alter with carved fangs and places the red obsidian tiger. Then he moves to the alter carved with a bear’s paw print and places the lapis lazuli bear. Finally, Kareep approaches the central bier and places the sword, the helmet, and the silver raven amongst the bones which have been gathered once again.

With the final placement of the raven, a deep rumbling sends a vibration through the chamber, limning everything with aura of ancient dust for a moment. With the last glimpse of light as the fading Revenant disappears, Kareep notices the silver raven is gone. When the light becomes utter darkness a powerful gust of wind pushes Kareep backwards through the entrance passage and outside once again. Eddies of dust and ash seem to seek everyone out, ruffling feathers and blowing cloaks. And then all is silent and dark.

Kareep lands as the wind subsides and looks right at Fennor. “The spirit is at rest, but you must seal this tomb Fennor. I task you to martial the resources and seal this place from further intrusion.” He puts out his hand to hers. “Will you see to it that this place is sealed for ever?”

With an hour’s collective work, everyone participates, even small Watson, and successfully seals the barrow just as the sun’s first rays illuminate the hillside.

Now with the light of day everyone gathered more stone and dirt. Watson’s oxen, farm tools, and wagons plus the barbarian’s horses were employed to really seal this thing up nice and tight. Big stones and lots of dirt. Quintus, Kareep, and the barbarians can do the heavy lifting. Watson can provide the tools, livestock, and knowledge of the local resources (where is the best source of the stone), and Puck and Templeton can direct and organize the labor and use their smarts to strategically engineer a very strong and capable extra layer of wall.

After the barbarians depart, Kareep peels open the last layer and Quintus lays a Glyph of Warding underneath the stone. The explosive runes will detonate if anyone disturbs the outer stone. It will do 5d8 of thunder damage. The exception included in the spell is that it will not detonate if it is Quintus, Kareep, Puck, or Templeton disturbing the stone.

As they worked they discussed it and discovered that each was given a boon by the ancient Uthgardt Spirit. Kareep was given A Silver Raven Figurine of Wondrous Power and a boon that allows him to use the effects of a Potion of Speed twice. Templeton received a boon that allows him to use the effects of a Potion of Gaseous Form twice. Puck received a boon granting him the power of a Potion of invisibility twice. And finally Quintus received a boon granting him the power of a Potion of Stone Giant Strength twice.

With everything now in place the party left, glad to be done with the cursed Nettlebee Farm. Everyone hoped they never saw a hobbit again.

The Four journeyed through Womford and on to Red Larch. The entire way the told and retold the story of the Halfling’s Curse again and again to anyone they could. They made it clear that messing with Uthgardt Burial Mounds was a terrible losing proposition. The story is being spread far and wide.

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Scourge of The Nettlebees
Nasty Hobbitses

With their new found resolve and unity, The Four set out from Womford and made the easy journey overland toward the Nettlebee Farm through rolling hills of prime agricultural land. On the way, Kareep used his reputation as a folk hero in these parts to get a nice warm spot in a farmer’s barn to spend the night. The next day the party arrived at the Nettlebee’s Farm. They met Jane Nettlebee, the matriarch of the family. After some talking she explained some of the queer things that had been happening on the farm lately.

There was a large Uthguardt burial mound within site of the farm which they called The Barrow Mound. It had been sealed for longer than anyone could remember. The hobbits kept their distance but it never troubled anyone. That is until a few weeks ago when the whole area around the burial mound caught fire and burned in unnatural fire. Jane Nettlebee’s son Watson was there that night and snuck up to witness it. He saw that the large field stone that had always blocked the entrance to the mound was sundered. Watson could see in and saw the entire area inside was wreathed in flames and he heard terrible whispers coming from inside. Watson left as fast as he could. No one has gone up there since and has no idea what happened but old man Wiggin Nettlebee, Jane Nettlebee’s father-in-law blamed the whole thing on fire witches. The party tried to speak with old man Wiggin but he refused even after being tempted with a platinum coin from Templeton. The other queer happening was that ever since the fire the Nettlebee’s livestock has been randomly branded and burned with a symbol. Jane showed one of the sheep that bore the mark.

fire_cult_symbol.jpg

It was the same mark that they saw on the tapestry in Lance Rock and was the last symbol to be placed with an elemental cult. Everyone was very certain it was the fire cult. The party assured Jane Nettlebee that they would get to the bottom of these strange happenings. Young Watson led the four to the entrance of barrow mound. But sensing his fear, Templeton asked him to run home and tell his mother where they were going.

The Four instantly felt a chill in the air as they approached the open barrow. This cold spread over them as they made their way into the ancient burial place. Templeton and Kareep snuck in while the other two held back. Templeton grit his teeth against the cold but Kareep seemed to be affected by it more and more as he went deeper into the crypt. It sapped away his strength and left him exhausted. The inside of the barrow was burnt with continual light spells still illuminating the area.

Templeton found three altars one with markings of the elk, a second with markings of the tiger, and a third with markings of the bear. In the center of these altars was another altar that once seemed to be the resting place for a body. But the remains were broken and scattered across the floor. Templeton hid and observed while Quintus and Puck used their religion and history skill to try and figure out what was going on here. Kareep was was too overcome with the effects of the cold was forced to get out of the barrow to try and warm up.

barrowmound.jpg

Suddenly the continual light spells were all dispelled and the barrow was plunged into darkness. A strange blue light began to coalesce around the center altar into the form of an undead spirit. Puck recognized this as a Revenant of an ancient Uthgardt Barbarian Chief. The creature spoke saying:
I will not rest until I find those responsible for defiling my hall.

Quintus and Puck stepped forward to interact with the revenant while Templeton hid in the shadows covering them with his crossbow. The spirit looked at Puck and Quintus and said You are not responsible.

Just then outside Kareep noticed the figure of an old hobbit. He pulled out a scroll and used it to summon an earth elemental which proceeded to cave in the entrance of the barrow sealing the party (except for Kareep) inside. Kareep, still exhausted from the chilling effects of the barrow, chased after the hobbits who were trying to hide.

Meanwhile inside the earth elemental streaked down the hall to engage the revenant and the party members in battle. It surfaced underneath Puck and slammed him to the ground with a large stony fist. The elemental’s body was tough only enchanted weapons could do it any harm. Luckily Templeton attacked with Sky Piercer, his enchanted heavy crossbow and Quintus attacked with his enchanted greatsword +1. The revenant touched the elemental with its undead hands to deal damage.

Outside Kareep spotted one of the hobbits as it was trying to hide and hurled his javelin of lightning at it. The javelin missed its mark but still exploded in lightning which was enough to kill the hobbit. The other older hobbit stopped in his tracks and slowly turned to face Kareep. ‘You killed my son!’ he screamed as he rushed in to attack.

Inside the battle raged on the with elemental. Puck really wanted to cast a fireball against the earth elemental but he thought better of it. This barrow had been defiled by magical fire and he thought it would anger the revenant further who was currently helping the party. So instead he cast haste on Templeton and teleported out of harms way. Templeton did not disappoint. He used the extra attack to great effect aiming carefully and unleashing two deadly attacks with his heavy crossbow doing a great deal of damage. The elemental fought hard but eventually it was brought down by one of Puck’s cantrips which luckily did not anger the revenant.

Outside Kareep was fighting toe to toe with the old hobbit who turned out to be Old Man Wiggin Nettlebee. ‘Your one of those one’s that killed Hellenrae!’ he yelled at Kareep. Kareep only kawed in response as he pierced him repeatedly with his lance. Wiggin used a spiritual weapon and his shillelagh spell to beat on Kareep and then did better with a cause serious wounds spell. But Kareep responded by viciously tearing him apart with his claws.

Kareep quickly searched the two Hobbits finding only a pouch with 10 GP on Wiggen that he pocketed for himself. He then turned to the caved in entrance and began the long laborious process of helping the other dig their way out…

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The Journey to Womford
Things Get A Little Out of Hand

The Four escorted the prisoners liberated from Monastery of the Sacred Stone to the small village of Womford. Along the way, Templeton had some conversations with Bruldenthar. Templeton learned the following:

1. Bruldenthar clearly was upset over the current state of The Monastery of Stone. It seemed that it was a place once inhabited by dwarves. Is that true? What is the history of that place? Would any dwarves be interested in reclaiming it?
“I have spoken to Puck at length regarding this question. I’ll let him share what he will.”

2. Runedorth is a shield dwarf that was with the Mirabar trade delegation caravan. He went missing and was one of the prisoners taken but the cultists after the attack. Who is he exactly? Was he guarding Bruldenthar and her books? Should we still be looking for him? If we find him should we direct him to go to Waterdeep to find Brulthendar?
“Rhundorth was neither my brethren nor my ally. Of course, he and I spoke on pleasant terms, but as to his purpose in the caravan, I am ignorant. The only comment I might make is that he and ”/characters/the-elven-girl" class=“wiki-content-link”>Teresiel did seem to have some surprising camaraderie."

3. Does Brulthendar know anything of the name Valklondar? Templeton will describe the cursed arrow and the cryptic message written around it. Can she shed any light on this mystery?
“That name is not familiar to me. Nor is the curse.”

4. Has Brulthendar ever heard of The Lord of Lance Rock? or of the place? He will show her the drawings of the necromancers tapestries and show her the different symbols that we have associated with different elemental cults. Does she know anything about these symbols? Especially the eye like one which rises over them all? Does she know any additional details about who these cultists are and what they are after? Templeton describes the floating eye and shrine like pedestal that we saw in Lance Rock before it faded away. He even re-creates it via an illusion for her to see. Does she recognize this at all?
With a look of surprise on her face, “The individual lower symbols do not hold much immediate meaning to me. However”, and she looks to Puck for a moment, "the symbol of the floating eye is one that I have seen reference to before – in association with a renegade drow temple. Do you wish to share, Puck?

“I am deeply disturbed that somehow such a symbol has surfaced to present days and above ground. Puck, perhaps can illuminate.”

5. Templeton discusses the writings of Marlos Urnrayle with Bruldenthar. Has she ever heard of The Evergrowing Mountain? Or The Black Geode?
“I have not. Though I would like to evaluate whatever writings you have.”

6. Templeton describes the goings on of the elders of Red Larch during our exploration of the Great Sinkhole underneath Red Larch. She explains what we know of the believers and the delvers. He describes the hidden temple of floating stones and the petrified dwarves that were found down there. Templeton also describes the sign we found "Petrified Ironstar (?) dwarf, found 1459 DR in Red Larch West Quarry in broken condition.” Can she shed any light on what we found there?
“As Puck can describe, there is a history of dwarves in these hills. Clearly, the quarry was the site of some dwarven history – though what exactly, I do not know.”

Surprised by Puck’s initiative and exclusion of him in the conversation Templeton exclaimed, “Puck, you little bastard. Have you been holding back on me?”

“There’s been a lot holding back from everyone here though hasn’t there Mr. Daltrey?” Puck replied.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,”said Templeton. “I am simply a spoiled noble with a dangerous taste for alcohol and the ladies. An open book with no secrets my little friend. I am a short and lecherous fellow who shall never live up to his potential. Just ask my father…”

“I’m calling the bigger little man out.” trumpeted Puck. "I think it is time that you divulge your true allegiances, Mr. Daltrey. I think that you have only disclosed certain chapters of this “open book. You flashed a secret handshake to Bruldenthar. What organization do you belong to?”

Kareep gets really intense at Puck’s questions to Templeton and responds with a firm… “Kakaw! is this true Templeton, did you flash a secret sign to the hairy woman?”

Templeton puts his hands out to either side. “Gentlemen. We have all been through a lot. Perhaps I can make a suggestion. Our large friend here, Quintus, can I believe call on the power of Tempus to cast a magic spell called Zone of Truth. If we all submit to the spell (intentionally fail our saves), we will only be able to speak the truth. We can then have a conversation and get everything out in the open. What do you think?”

“That sounds fair!” kawed Kareep.

On the following evening, after a long day’s journey, you all sit around a small fire warming your weary muscles. Quintus stands up, looks seriously at everyone, calls for Tempus to friggin’ strike down anyone who lies within this circle and casts Zone of Truth.

Kareep forfeits his save and looks at everyone with an intense stare. “I have recently been working for the ”/wikis/the-emerald-enclave" class=“wiki-page-link”> Emerald Enclave in an effort to protect the Dessarin Valley. Puck is also a member of the Emerald Enclave, is that not correct Puck?"

Templeton says, “Kareep, I appreciate your honesty. Can you tell me more about the ”/wikis/the-emerald-enclave" class=“wiki-page-link”> Emerald Enclave? What kind of organization is it? What are its goals?"

Kareep cocked his head and said “You tell me what you are doing here and who you work for first, then I will tell you what I know.”

Templeton frowns. “The truth hurts, Kareep. That is why I do not wish to speak of it. The truth is I am no hero. I am a small petty little man trying hard to make a better name for myself in the eyes of my family and especially my father. Unfortunately, I am still mostly regarded by them all as a drunken womanizer and I am not good enough. Hard drink and loose women truly are my downfall, but they are difficult demons to exorcise. I play at being a big man. I play at being a hero. I mime some sort of signals to dwarven sages to make myself look important but in the end the truth is sadly that I have no greater calling. I work for my family – The Daltreys. These cultists are bad for trade. The life blood of my family’s riches is through trade especially in this region. Perhaps bringing stability to this region will make my father take some modicum of interest in me. Maybe if I pretend to be a hero it can somehow pull me out of drowning my sorrows in wine and women’s bosoms. “

Templeton shakes his head as if coming out of some sort of stupor, “But your Emerald Enclave. That sounds like something real. That sounds like an organization that can make a difference. Who are you and what are your goals? How does one become a member?”

Kareep nods his head “Your words ring true…to be honest I know little about the ”/wikis/the-emerald-enclave" class=“wiki-page-link”> Emerald Enclave. They saved my life when I first came to explore the valley region. I was ambushed by the evil vulture riders and almost died. They asked me to join them and I came with Puck to try to put an end to the problems we have recently uncovered. You have been a brave friend Templton Daltry, we would not have come so far without you and Quintus."

Puck frowns. “That is not good enough. What signal did you flash to ”/characters/bruldenthar" class=“wiki-content-link”>Bruldenthar?"

Templeton shrugs, “I just did this.” He makes a movement with his hands. “I do have a certain knack for mimicking things. I was trying to make Bruldenthar think I was something that I was not. I wanted her to gain her trust. The signal did not really mean anything more to me. But now Mr. Puck it is your turn. I suppose you could shed some more light on this Emerald Enclave. Kareep speaks very highly of it but seems to not know many details. What say you Puck?”

Puck looks to Quintus for some indication that Templeton is lying, but the cleric says, “Tempus does not say he is lying.”

Puck’s eyebrows narrow and Puck shakes his head, “that is not logical. You’re saying that you just happened to flash a hand signal to ”/characters/bruldenthar" class=“wiki-content-link”>Bruldenthar, a highly intelligent sage, that somehow won over her trust?! That is fantastical lie. I do not believe you and I do not believe that you have entered in the Zone of Truth in good faith. I will divulge nothing to you and you threaten to end our continued association. If you want me to divulge the information I gleaned from Bruldenthar, you’re going to have to answer my question."

After Puck’s accusation Kareep stands up and changes his tune drastically. He gabs Templeton by the collar (to hit 26 AC to grab him) and screeches. “By my kin you are lying little man. So help me you will tell the truth right now or I will strike you down dead where you stand!”

Templeton hangs in the air, held aloft by Kareep. He calmly says, “You will set me down and unhand me immediately. Is this any way to treat a friend? My actions may not be logical but is that cause for violence? I think I may have misjudged you two…”

Puck yelled, “Kareep!! Stop! There’s no need for violence here…yet. I trust Bruldenthar was not evil but because you’ve disclosed our allegiance to Emerald Enclave I need to know whom that information is now being shared with. I do not believe Templeton is evil but I will not share further information with him until I am convinced that he is not passing it on to third parties whose interests are not aligned with Enclave’s.”

Kareep lets Templeton down gently and steps back. “All apologies, but I know in my heart you are lying. I opened my heart to you and you lied Templeton, now is the time for truth as there is much we can accomplish together.”

Quintus put his hands in the air and said, “Now let’s not be a bunch of f# nuts and calm this shet down a peg. Let’s jest be honest an fricken remember that we have covered one an others arse s for sometime now and in Tempus’s eyes and mine own f#n peepers that’s counts for something. If someone wants to be dickwad and lie to his companions and brothers in arms, ahm sure as shit they must have a reason. If ya have a sekret that you feel you want ta keep jest say so and let’s move on to the impotent thing and get back to smitin heathens.”

Templeton Daltrey straightens his expensive shirt and smooths the collar back into place. Suddenly Templeton looks completely different. The foppish grin is gone replaced with a grim visage of fierce intensity. Gone are the nonchalant and whimsical eyes being replaced by a pair of deadly serious orbs. “Your concern is well placed Puck and Kareep. I am not really Templeton Daltrey. My life of nobility and privilege is but a ruse. I am sorry for the deception but it had to be done in order to safe guard my mission and allegiances. But Kareep is right. There are more important things going on here in the Dessarin Valley than maintaining cover stories. We have uncovered some serious goings on with these cultists. They must be stopped. I believe it is in the best interest of both of our respective organizations to work together to make sure they are destroyed. As a token of my good faith in this matter, I will reveal to you all my secret.”

Templeton waves his hand over his left shoulder and a cloak pin appears where you saw none before. The pin is a field of blue pierced by a silver crescent moon and a harp. “Friends, I am an agent of The Harpers. a secret organization dedicated to promoting good, preserving history (including art and music of old) and maintaining a balance between civilization and nature by keeping kingdoms small and the destruction of plant life to a minimum. I am one of those who harp and I follow the harper code:

• Harpers work against villainy and wickedness wherever they find it, but they work ever mindful of the consequences of what they do.
• All beings should walk free of fear, with the right to live their lives as they wish.
• The rule of law aids peace and fosters freedom, so long as the laws are just and those who enforce them lenient and understanding.
• No extreme is good. For freedom to flourish, all must be in balance: the powers of realms, the reaches of the cities and the wilderlands into each other, and the influence of one being over another.
• Whatever it takes, a Harper will do. Pride never rules the deeds of a true Harper.
• Freedom is a multiversal right, though Harpers can spare themselves less freedom than those they work to protect when the need presents itself.
• Harpers police their own. A Harper who hears the call of personal power can no longer hear the sweet song of the harp. A Harper who seizes power, and holds it above all else, is a traitor to the harp. Traitors must die for freedom to live.
• Without a past, no being can appreciate what they have, and where they may be going.

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Templeton points to the newly visible cloak pin, “This is my harper pin. It is a magical item that remains invisible unless I wish it to be seen. It also cloaks my mind and wards me from mind reading magics and detection of lies. That is why the zone of truth spell cast by Quintus did not affect me even though I submitted to it.” Templeton waves his hand over his shoulder again and the harper pin disappears.

“I am sorry for lying to you, but I had to make sure you were not working for an organization that was at odds with The Harpers. Luckily for all of us, The Emerald Enclave and The Harpers have similar aims and guiding principles. I am certain that both would want to see the elemental cults of the Dessarin Valley destroyed. And would encourage us to solidify our alliance. So I make this pact with all three of you. I will not speak to anyone of your affiliations or secrets and I expect the same of you. We will work together to see an end to these cultists and their dark faith. Do we have an accord?”

Templeton Daltrey extends his hand out and bids all 3 of the other party members to grasp his hand at once and seal this bond. As one the hands of each of The Four came together and sealed the bond. With the de-escalation of tensions complete, Puck confirmed that he too was a member of the Emerald Enclave. He also revealed the information that he had gleaned from Bruldenthar.

Puck studied as an apprentice under a human wizard named Scandarian who was a member of the emerald enclave. Scandarian was killed while investigating drow and elementalist activities a couple of years ago.

One thousand years ago dwarves of Besilimir built the Monastery of the Sacred Stone. They also built the Feathergale Spire, and the Riverside Keep. All of these places were connected underground to a stronghold called Tyar-Besil. While building Tyar-Besil, they came upon a great evil. The Besilimir Dwarves uncovered and abandoned drow temple dedicated to primordial evil (NOT Lloth). The dwarves could not cleanse the drow ruins. They abandoned the area but were pressed on the surface by trolls and giants. In the end they were attacked from all sides and that marked the fall of Besilimir Dwarves. A few hundred years later men called The Knights of The Silver Horn discovered the dwarven ruins and built their own keeps on top of the dwarven ruins. An Orc horde wiped out these humans.

Recently, a few years ago, renegade drow were sighted in the region. A drow wizard said that he sought the ancient temple beneath Tyar-Besil. Puck thinks that this same drow was one of the ones his master, Scandarian, was investigating. The eye symbol that figured so prominently over the other elemental cult symbols in the tapestry at Lance Rock.

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This eye symbol represents the primordial evil of the drow temple beneath Tyar-Besil. Bruldenthar is quite concerned that this would have come to the surface lands. It could represent a great threat to the Dessarin Valley and beyond.

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Cleansing The Monastery of Stone

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A huge ogre burst out of the door and slammed into a surprised Templeton. Luckily his uncanny dodge allowed him to avoid some of the damage. Before he could react, 3 Orogs pushed past their ogre friend to surround Templeton. Templeton’s shield spell went up and stopped a few of their blows but a couple made it past his guard. In a bad way and very exposed, Templeton disengaged from the fight and moved away. He used his action to cast a minor illusion spell of a bulge in the rough hewn cave wall and snuck around to hide inside it. He could now see through the illusory walls but the orogos and ogre could not see him.

The battle wore on with Templeton firing his crossbows from the safety of his hidden location. Kareep made good use of his ablity to hide and sneak up to ambush the Ogre using his ambuscade ability. Puck let loose a fireball that killed the Ogre and burned the Orogs badly. Quintus used his spirutal hammer to beat the love of Tempus into their black hearts. Eventually all were slain. In their room Templeton found a loose flagstone hiding a pouch with 90 GP and 40 EP. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

Templeton led the way exploring the rest of the tunnels.

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An area was found that was barred off with a very complicated lock. Attempts to to pick the local and bend the bars failed. Widget was sent down but hit some kind of a ward and was destroyed. Clearly there was no way to go any further. But a different section of the tunnels led to a crypt. There were sarcophagi and remains lining the walls. A large central sarcophagus was open and empty. It had writing on it that said:

Here lies Samular Caradoon defender of the North.

Four zombies suddenly surrounded and attacked Quintus. He fought them off by calling upon the holy power of Tempus and turning two of them to dust. The other two were quickly dispatched by the deadly crossbow fire of Templeton and the strong lance work by Kareep.

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The crypt was searched and Kareep found 2 rings. One was made of silver with inset rubies worth 600 GP. The other was made of gold but was enchanted. Puck identified the ring as a ring of fire resistance. Kareep kept the item and attuned himself to it. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

With the keep secured, the party escorted the prisoners up to the mess hall at the upper level. There they ate and drank their fill and provisioned themselves for the journey out of the monastery. During this time, Bruldenthar told her harrowing tale of what happened to the caravan. Right before they would have reached Summit Hall, the attack came. It was swift and devastating. Earth cultists including monks wearing golden masks, earth priests, and fighters with the strange stone armor took down the caravan. Bruldenthar was taken prisoner along with Deseyna Norvael, Teresial, and Runedorth.

The group was ferried across the river by pirates in exchange for Brulhendar’s books for payment. At some point after that but before they reached the Monastery of the Sacred Stone, they were attacked by the air cult. It is suspected at that point Deseyna Norvael, Teresial, and Runedorth were taken by the air cult since they were not found in the Monastery of the Sacred Stone.

After an extended rest, the group geared up and worked their way overland to the town of Womford.

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Bruldenthar Found!

Widget flew into the large temple area revealing an earth cult priest and 2 guards hiding in wait. The priest managed to cast a slow spell which affected just Puck. Templeton was holding the doorway and was attacked by one of the guards who scored some viscous hits on him. Later the priest blasted the party with a shatter spell causing Templeton to go down. Puck saved him using a healing potion. The guard in the doorway went down and Kareep flew into the room bearing down on the priest. The priest shoved Kareep back and ran over to pull a lever in the wall triggering the floor beneath Kareep to give way. He fell into a room below where a terrible creature was released from a cage to attack him. The creature looked like an Umber Hulk who had two of its eyes removed and its claws replaced with large bronze blades.
The beast sliced and diced Kareep pretty good before he disengaged and flew out of there back up into the room. It was no long, however, before it leaped and clawed its way up into the main temple as well.

Seeing the full bulk of this monstrosity, Puck frowned and unleashed a fireball engulfing the umber hulk and the priest. The battle raged on for not much longer but finished with Quintus knocking out the priest and Kareep slaying the umber hulk. The priest had a key around his neck but nothing else of any value or interest. Badly hurt, the four took their prisoner to the barracks room they had previously occupied. There they locked the door using one of the two keys that were found. After a long rest, Templeton set about interrogating the prisoner. He was not very forthcoming. He was shocked to learn that we had dispatched Hellenrae and essentially wiped out his forces in the keep. But his fanatical lips were tight. Kareep was quickly frustrated and slew the priest with his claws.

Now back at full strength the party began exploring the tunnels underneath the keep. There they found a nasty tentacle Grick which enveloped Templeton until Kareep killed it with a javelin throw and attacks with his lance. Later Templeton walked right into the middle of some virulent fungi. But he managed to dance away. Kareep through one of his Molotov cocktails. The fiery blast missed its target but forced the fungi to slowly retreat. As they moved away Quintus yelled out, “Poor Little Critters!”

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Just when he thought there was nothing down in the caves, Templeton found 3 large cells with prisoners. Most were human but one of them was a dwarf. After a quick conversation he discovered it was Bruldenthar, the dwarven sage he was looking for. The dwarf warned him of ogre and orog jailers in the adjacent room as he picked the locks on the cell doors. Templeton then went to the door but as he rounded the corner it flew open revealing an orog ready to fight.

Quintus is at full HP, has used 3 HD and has cast a 2nd level spell slot.

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Aggressive Negotiations
Negotiations with a Cloudkill

Before continuing their exploration of The Sacred Stone Monastery, Templeton convinced the party to let him try to speak to the Gentleman of Presence again. His logic was that if this indeed was a lich who didn’t like the cultists bothering him perhaps he could be convinced to “hire” us to deal with the problem of regaining the keep all to himself. Templeton’s aggressive negotiations spurred the gentleman to fill the entire room with a deadly cloudkill spell. Such poisonous vapors would have spelled certain death for a living man but the power of the magic and the fact that it did him no harm was further evidence that he was indeed a lich. Templeton promptly closed the door and his wonderfully prepared speech was tabled.

The front door section of the monastery was explored next revealing 5 monks who were on guard or writing in a library of sorts. The 5 monks were defeated and the books and texts were searched through revealing all sorts of texts about elemental magic, earth deities, and nihilism. Many of the tomes were recently written by someone named Marlos Urnrayle. Marlos is known as The Prophet of Earth and wrote many of the texts on elemental earth magic. There were stories of Marlos going to a place called The Fane of The Eye. And there he found a powerful magic item called Ironfang, a war pick that was imbued with the magic of a holy implement of earth power. There was a reference to the Monastery of the Sacred Stone which we believe to be the current complex being explored and to somewhere called The Temple of The Black Earth. There were also references to The Black Geode which was linked somehow to The Evergrowing Mountain which seemed to be some powerful individual or deity who was said to use The Black Geode to remake the earth in his own image. Also mixed in around the the books were 2 Spell Scrolls – Dust Devil and Erupting Earth. Puck took these scrolls to add to his spellbook later.

Further on in the complex were some monk living chambers which included a locked iron coffer which contained 120 GP, 90 ep, golden priestly vestments, a leather pouch with 2 gold bracelets (30 GP each), and 3 spellscrolls containing Earthbind, Transmute Rock to Mud, and Maximillian’s Earthen Grasp. Puck took these scrolls as well to add to his collection. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

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Six duergar mercenaries were encountered in a special heated and shuttered room. These evil dwarves were able to enlarge themselves to giant proportions and turn invisible. They were really tough. Quintus went down during the encounter and Kareep used his healing magic to get him back up but Puck was the star. Using his blur spell he boldly went right inside the room drawing all attacks to himself. The brave little gnome then unleashed a wicked fireball.

Templeton, Kareep and Quintus were all badly wounded at the end of the battle once the duergar were defeated. So they used Quintus’ last 3rd spell slot to cast healing magic to heal all of them. Then they went back and took a short rest for an hour to regain most of the rest of their strength.

Further exploration revealed a large dining area and kitchens. There were monks in the kitchens. The first was cooking when Templeton hit him with a critical sneak attack ending him very quickly with one shot. But 3 more monks spread out into the room and attacked. They were dealt with and the last room was revealed on this level – a huge open area containing …

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Fall of The Abbess

In the Monastery of the Sacred Stone, Templeton had just burst into the fighting ring room and was about to pull the trigger on his crossbow when The Abbess moved next to him with blinding speed and delivered a viscous punch to the small man’s chest. Templeton staggered about as this stunning effect of the Buddha palm strike reverberated through his body. Templeton was unable to do much of anything.

Luckily the rest of the party still had the jump on the remaining 4 monks. They were surprised where the Abbess was not. Puck cast haste on Kareep. The bird man rushed in and did some good damage against the Abbess with his attacks. The battle raged on with Templeton finally shaking off the effects of the stun. During the battle 2 more monks from a different room came in to join the battle. At one point Quintus went down and Templeton used one of his two Potions of Healing with his mage hand to get him back on his feet. In the end all 6 monks were defeated along with the Abbess herself. The Abbess had a key around her neck which Templeton relieved her of.

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Pretty beat up and wanting to preserve some spells, the group tried to take an hour long short rest. Unfortunately half way into the rest there was a knock on the door. Templeton used his minor illusion cantrip to mimic the voice of the Abbess as well as he could. He said, “I am busy what is it?” Unfortunately he had not heard her speak very much – only throw punches at him. So they opened the door to come face to face with Templeton’s ready crossbows. The two monks were surprised. Templeton’s first crossbow shot went right through the neck of the first monk and he went right down. His second shot caught the other in the chest and he was finished by Kareep’s lance.

A short rest was tried again and this time was successful. After that Templeton took the lead exploring the Monastery of the Sacred Stone. They found a distillery with some really poor brandy in bottles and casks. Kareep took 4 bottles to create some Molotov Cocktails with some rags. Quintus took 2 bottles to drink and Templeton poo poo’d the incredibly poor quality of the brandy.

The bedroom of The Abbess was found. There was a chest with 65 PP, 800 SP, and 12 turquoise stones worth 10 GP each. There was also a note on the desk signed Hellenrae, Abbess of the Sacred Stone Monastery. This confirmed the name of the head of the monastery we had just defeated. The elemental earth symbols abound in the entire complex. With the following symbol:

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It was the same symbol we found in the secret cavern beneath Red Larch during the The Great Sinkhole of Red Larch affair.

Templeton then entered another room and found what looked like a human man called The Gentleman of Presence sitting at a desk working on something. The room was clearly a lab of some kind but everything was old and in a state of disrepair. As he entered the old man said in an annoyed voice, “I told you not to bother me. Leave at once.” Templeton tried to cast a charm person spell on him but the man was clearly a wizard and cast counterspell.

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Templeton tried to ask some questions but he and Kareep who had also come into the room were picked up by a telekineesis spell and moved out of the room. Templeton got a pretty good look at the man and he had a strange appearance. He could have been undead. Kareep’s previous divination spell had indicated that there were undead inside the monastery. There was a door to a different room and a staircase leading down in the Gentleman’s Room.

Deciding to leave The Gentleman of Presence be, the party moved to explore the rest of the area discovering a separate staircase going down, some monks quarters, and an open air hallway containing 2 Gargoyles who sprang to life to attack. Kareep caw’d in anger as gargoyles are hated enemies of the Aurakokra. The battle was short and swift with the gargoyles being defeated.

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From Summit Hall to The Monastery of Stone

After completing trade with Sigfrid Holden, the merchant let The Four off on the banks of the Dessarin Mountains just south of the hills. From there they marched east to Summit Hall, a Temple of Tyr. There they met with Lady Ushien Stormbanner and learned the history of the Knights of Samular. Summit Hall was built by Samular Caradoon hundreds of years ago who also founded an order of knights to protect Summit Hall.

One of Lady Ushien Stormbanner’s Samular Knights had fallen in battle. His body was being returned to Summit Hall in order to be interned into the crypts beneath. The missing trade caravan had the knights body amongst its cargo. It has yet to be recovered but The Four reasserted their pledge to find it to Lady Ushien and explained everything they had learned so far. To aid in their quest she gifted them each a Potion of Healing and had one of her knights help Kareep find a location on his map. The location was the Monastery of the Sacred Stone which one of the Samular Knights said he saw the monks with the golden masks residing.

The next morning the party left Summit Hall and trekked west across the Dessarin River and to the Monastery of the Sacred Stone. They were able to sneak up to it using Kareep’s excellent Pass without Trace spell which significantly increased everyone’s stealth. Templeton was able to scout ahead and find the monastery in a rocky ravine. He snuck around its entirety and found the possible entrances. The side doors were barred but the gardens had no roof. Widget examined the gardens and found they were a bit overgrown and had many stone statues there. Templeton tried to unlock the door but it was rusted shut. Templeton used two vials of acid to free the lock but the iron grate itself would not budge as it was rusted shut.

Kareep and Puck flew over the wall and into the gardens carrying Templeton’s rope. Unfortunately 4 gargoyles leaped to life to attack. Puck had a prepared spell that he used to blast one of the creatures as they focused their attacks on Kareep – Auracokra are their hated enemies. Kareep and Puck fought the 4 gargoyles from the inside while Templeton and Quintus attacked from the outside through the iron gate. That gargoyle’s stony hide was immune to nonmagical weapons so Kareep and Templeton made good use of their newly acquired enchanted weapons. Eventually Quintus ripped the iron grate open with his bare strength and went in to cast healing magics on Kareep. The battle was fierce with Kareep taking the worst of it, but the four finally slew the 4 gargoyles and checked the doors into the monastery from the garden. One was bared shut but the other was open.

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Templeton snuck in and all around the hallways. He heard hand to hand fighting going on in one room, so the party snuck up and was all ready. Templeton burst into the room to get the jump on those inside. Inside the room was a fighting ring and four beat up monks surrounding an untouched female. The four men were surprised but not the female. Before Templeton could aim his crossbow and fire, the female monk moved as fast as lightning to get next to him and struck him hard in the chest. Templeton’s world was sent spinning as he was stunned by the attack.

Quintus ended at full hit points and used 2 – 1st level spell slots, 1 second level, and 1 3rd level slot.

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End of the Line

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The horde of ghasts was finally defeated. But the party was badly wounded. So they opted to renew the ritual of water walking and try to take a short 1 hour rest in the underground river to renew themselves. They never completed the rest as 2 huge Chuuls – crab-like creatures swam down the river to attack with their massive pincers. The party managed to fight them off as well – slaying them both. The same tactic was used again to try and take a short rest. Again it was thwarted by the appearance of 5 undead shadows. The power of Tempus was unleashed upon them as Quintus turned them to dust with his divine turning. Before he was able to destroy them, however, they had managed to drain much of the party’s actual strength with the strength draining powers. Unable to continue, the party turned around and went all the way back to the secret room to try and take an extended rest. They left widget behind to monitor the underground river.

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During the rest 2 men in a boat sailed by on the river. Templeton managed to persuade them to leave with his verbal acumen. During the rest there was a major earthquake. The stable that was in a state of disrepair collapsed and the underground river tunnel also collapsed. After examining the extent of the damage is was clear that the underground river was completely blocked. There was no way to follow.

Frustrated, the party turned their attention to leaving the keep and heading down river to the town of Womford. They were frustrated again, however, by discovering their horses had been killed and the only boat left in the keep was in a bad state of repair due to the large chain being dropped on it.

Finally the party got a break as another boat was spotted coming down the river. Thy hailed the boat and found it to be captained by Sigfrid Holden along with his female crew of Pia and Perla. The boat seemed to move via magical means. There were no oars or rudders apparent. Sigurd was a quirky fellow and his female crew were suspiciously softspoken but Templeton brokered a deal with them to transport The Four to Womford in exchange for an opportunity to trade. Sigfrid Holden turned out to be some sort of wizard. He had a magical trunk aboard his small ship that was much larger on the inside than the outside.

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Kareep of Goldenfields traded his Orb and 800 Gold Coins for Anosa Soreen and a Javelin of Lightning. Templeton Daltrey traded Reszur and 750 GP (50 GP pitched in by a very helpful Kareep) for Sky Piercer and Gloves of Thievery. Puck spent 600 GP and traded his Wingwear, lens, and a scroll of wall of water for a Pearl of Power, Cloak of Protection, and Wand of the Warmage. Quintus traded in his wingwear and spent 800 gold coins in exchange for Gauntlets of Ogre Power and a Greatsword + 1. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

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Down the Underground River

Sneaking up the stairs Templeton got the jump on one of the Reavers standing Guard. The crossbow bolt caught him right under the chin and spun him around like a rag doll. The priest came out of the building and nailed Quintus with a powerful magic missile hurting him badly. He then cast a spell coating the entire area in a freezing sleet making it extremely slippery and reducing vision. Quintus stood firm and used the side of the building to find his way forward and out of the blizzard-like conditions. He yelled back to Puck and Templeton to follow his voice. Puck moved forward keeping his feet and moving clear of the area of effect of the spell. Puck then pulled out a rope and expertly tossed it back towards Templeton.

Templeton, who was on his belly, had Puck’s rope land right next to him. He grabbed the rope and pulled himself along, sliding on the slippery ice, until he got to Puck’s position and clear of the ice. Seeing the priest and the Reaver move into the church via the left side door, Templeton, Puck, and Quintus moved to the door on the right to flank them. The priest and Reaver tried to slip back out the way they came in on the left side to avoid the trio but ran right into Kareep who had snuck around on the other side of the building and hurled a javelin at the priest.

The priest fired a magic missile spell at Kareep, but the ranger’s brooch of shielding protected him completely from the spell. Then Puck moved bravely into the middle of the scrum in order to draw the enemies attention. Templeton used Puck’s brave distraction to fire expertly aimed bolts with deadly accuracy. The reaver went down. The priest ran inside the church shutting the door behind him and tried to hide.

Kareep entered first and looked around unable to find the priest. Puck entered second and demanded the priest give up and surrender. Templeton did the same. The priest yelled “You will be crushed between his claws!” and cast another sleet spell to coat the room in ice and wind. The priest fell over a pew in the church but managed to get to the door only to find himself right next to Quintus. Quintus and Templeton attacked him and tried to capture him but he made it outside and dove into the water below. Kareep flew down and found him in the water skewering him with his lance and hauling him up to dry land to be searched.

The priest was wearing a key that looked identical to the key found on Jolliver Grimjaw. It was known that this key unlocked the iron door at the bottom of the secret staircase. The dead Reavers had 6 GP each on them. Inside the church was a symbol looking like an X with a line connecting the bottom two points. The Four had seen it before in the tapestry of the necromancer. Templeton assumed it was the symbol of the Elemental Water Cult.

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Now that the entire keep seemed secure, the party searched the boat. On it they found some casks of ale, salted fish, various pelts, a locked chest containing a pouch of 190 SP, a pouch with 95 GP, 3 chunks of malachite worth 10 GP each, and a Potion of Healing. Quintus took the potion so that both he and Templeton had one. There was also a locked crate containing 3 large books. Templeton identified them as the dwarven books he was looking for as they matched the book he had in his possession. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

Mostly spent, the party holed up in the secret room of the keep and took an 8 hour long rest. All the while, Puck’s owl Widget kept watch on the grounds of the keep and saw nothing the entire time. Everyone reached 5th level!

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Rested up and with new found power, the party went down the secret staircase and used the keys to unlock the iron door. There they found the underground river but the two boats they saw there previously were gone. There were also no ghasts to be seen. The only boat left out in the keep was too large to fit down the underground tunnel. Puck sent Widget to fly on ahead through the dark underground river to see where it led. After about half an hour Puck felt the life force of his familiar snuffed out. Puck re-summoned him and found out that it had been killed by ghasts.

Undaunted, Quintus used ritual magic to call upon the power of Tempus and cast Water Walk. In 10 minutes time each party member could walk on the water of the underground river for 1 hour. Using Kareep’s driftglobe, Quintus’ light spell, and Templeton’s hooded lantern, the party made there way up the underground river. About half an hour into the trip Templeton spied the sickly green head of one of the ghasts just beneath the water. Templeton let loose a crossbow bolt and sunk it into the creature’s head. Six ghasts surfaced to attack. Quintus cast a spiritual weapon and Puck let loose a fireball. Kareep flew forward to engage them with his lance. Four were destroyed but 8 more surfaced to attack everyone in the party.

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Kareep went down from damage as the ghasts tried to pull him underwater. But the walk on water spell held him on the surface. Puck let loose another fireball engufling the ghasts in deadly flames.

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Many ghasts remain and the deadly battle continues…

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