Apocalyptica

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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Securing the Boat

With all three of the guards on the large boat slain and Templeton in the water preparing to climb up into the boat, Kareep saved him the trouble by flying over to land on the boat. Seeing that Kareep had the situation well in hand and hearing the cries of Quintus that reavers and fathomers were in the tower, Templeton swam for shore. The currents were challenging but the short Waterdhavian noble somehow found the strength to get to safety. Kareep dropped the anchor on the large boat and secured a rope to moor the boat to the adjacent dock.

Quintus engaged the Reavers in melee. The Reavers and Fathomer seemed surprised by the four and questioned who they were. Apparently these four were not involved in any of the previous battles. Quintus replied with steel. Puck blasted some fire magic expertly past Quintus, through the doorway and into the chest of one of the reavers. Between the eldritch blasts of The Fathomer and the deadly razor sharp shark teeth longswords of the Reavers, Quintus did not last long. He went down hard, blood seeping from gaping wounds. The Fathomer pushed a release lever on the large cog in the tower that sent the huge heavy chain down into the water and smashing on top of the moored large boat. The boat splintered a bit but held together. The Fathomer then turned invisible. Templeton showed up shortly after firing a deadly barrage of crossbow bolts into the reavers clearing them out. Templeton also managed to use his invisible mage hand spell to administer a healer’s kit to Quintus and stop him from dying by binding his wounds.

Kareep then flew into the room looking for the invisible Fathomer. He thought he detected him and pointed behind a large curtain. Templeton ran into the tower, leaped up and cut the top of the curtain, swinging in a wide arc hoping to ensnare the Fathomer and reveal his location. However, the Fathomer must have moved because the deft maneuver ensnared only air.

Somehow the Fathomer had gotten past everyone and made it through the door. He went all the way up to the northeast tower and opened the door. Three bugbears came out and started coming down to investigate the tower the four were holed up in. Clearly the Fathomer had sent them to get us. Kareep used his potion of healing on Quintus to get him back up and in the fight. Only one potion remained and it was in the possession of Templeton.

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Templeton went to the edge of the tower and let loose some crossbow bolts. One of the bugbears was clearly larger and was the captain but Templeton targeted one of the other two. Unfortunately the invisible Fathomer had readied some eldritch blasts. One of them managed to strike Templeton despite his cover. The magic burned. But the Fathomer was hurt and had had enough of dealing with the intruders. He dove off the cliff and into the river below. Widget spied him swimming past the boat gate and into the gaping maw of the river cave. Further evidence that something lay between it and the secret stairs revealed by Jolliver Grimjaw’s key.

With the three bugbears coming down the stairs towards The Four, Puck bravely ran forward. He cast a bladeward on himself and stood adjacent to the bugbears. The bugbears were supposed by this brave maneuver from such a little fellow that Templeton used the distraction to sneak attack with his crossbow and suddenly killed both the underling bugbears. All that remained was the bugbear chief. He smacked Puck pretty good with his huge morningstar but the bladeward protected him offering resistance and half damage.

With all the party’s attacks focused on the bugbear captain it wasn’t long before he went down under Kareep’s lance. But not before getting a couple more licks in on Puck. The brave little gnome had really done well this day.

Badly hurt, The Four holed up in the southeast tower to bind their wounds and to try to take a short rest. Templeton searched the area and found a leather satchel with some treasure in it. It contained 70 GP, 12 PP, and 6 agates worth 10 GP each. The Master Party Treasure List was updated. During this hour respite, Widget kept watch on the keep. About 30 minutes into the rest he watched as the servants left the kitchens and carefully sneaked towards the main gate. The party decided to just let them go.

Fifty minutes into the hour long rest, Widget saw the door to the last unexplored outbuilding open and 2 reavers came out. They walked around casually not seeming to be on alert. That is until they saw the bodies of all their comrades littering the keep that the party had slain. The two reavers ran into the main hall presumably to alert Jolliver Grimjaw only to find the wereboar dead on the floor therein. The reavers ran to another door in the last outbuilding and spoke with a priest there. They showed the priest what was going on before the party, now healed by using the last of their hit dice, finally finished their rest and began to slink out from the southeast tower to move to engage them.

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Exploring River Keep

The alarm was up in River Keep and the Reavers and Guardsman were on the move to find and destroy the intruders. Two guardsman had entered through the main doors and Kareep was still outside hiding on the roof. With Puck surrounded by the two guardsman, Templeton ran down the stairs, pulled out both hand crossbows and let loose two bolts promptly killing both of the men. Kareep then flew down from the roof dodging a couple of javelins as he entered and shut and barred the door behind him.

Everyone slowly exhaled a sigh of relief as it seemed the keep was secure. Unfortunately it was very short lived as reavers smashed their way through the upper door by the wall of the keep. Templeton sprung into action, running back up the stairs and getting into position to intercept the men as they came out.

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The party managed to get into a favorable position so that the reavers and guardsman could only come one at a time through a hallway where they were riddled with bolts and skewered by Kareep’s lance. The kill zone worked quite effectively. All of the enemies were slain except the two missing fathomers who never showed themselves.

Templeton and Quintus ran after some fleeing guardsmen, slaying one and letting another get away as he went into the gatehouse. Templeton and Quintus chose to retire and rejoined their friends.

With this section of the keep now secured, the party badly needed to recover from their wounds. The upper door was in shambles so it could not be secured. Puck sent his owl familiar, Widget, to keep watch on the goings on, while the party holed up to rest in the secret room for an hour. They managed to complete their rest without incident. During the hour Widget observed some of the guards moving about the keep and then getting into a small boat and sailing away.

During the short rest Puck examined the scrolls recovered from the chests. He found two spell scrolls. Haste and Wall of Water. Both of these spells were too high level for Puck but he planned on adding them to his spell book soon. Templeton examined the large book that Jolliver had in his possession. Rather than an actual book it seemed to be a binder of all sorts of papers thrown together with little organization. A few things of interest were in the binder. There was a document describing members of the party as troublemakers to look out for. So it seems this group had spies in Red Larch. There were some shipping manifests and caravan inventories. It seems as though Jolliver and his men were robbing caravans but there was no definitive evidence linking them to the dwarven caravan the party was looking for.

After completing the rest, the party made their way downstairs hearing someone creeping around. The main door was still shut but the two smaller doors that had yet to be explored had someone run in and shut quickly. Templeton and Quintus each busted into the doors to find the kitchen and a servants quarters filled with about 10 or so human servants cowering in fear. After Templeton explained that Mr. Grimjaw would no longer be requiring their services, he discovered that the hired help was not hired at all. In fact they were being held in the keep against their will and forced to cook and clean. Templeton assured the scared folk that they were now free, but warned them that the keep was not yet completely secure. The servants had been here for about 3 months and had heard of the keep bandits attacking caravans and such. But they had not heard or seen anything about a dwarf caravan or an elf girl. Templeton told the people to hold up in their quarters and sit tight. The Four would return when the keep was secure to get them out of there and back to the safety of their village.

The servants told Templeton that they had seen Bugbears in the keep. They laired somewhere within but did not know where. They also told Templeton about a hidden door that Jolliver used from time to time. They showed him where it was. Sure enough, Templeton opened the secret door and found a spiral staircase leading down. The party lit lanterns and created a light spell to go down into the darkness. At the bottom of the spiral stair was an iron door with a key hole. Templeton produced the key they had found on Grimjaw’s person and tried to use it. Click the door unlocked. Templeton opened the door and went through it finding himself in a natural cavern with water flowing through it. Two small boats were moored by the door and the underground river flowed out of the cave through a tunnel into darkness. But to his horror, Templeton saw the heads of 10 or so disfigured ghasts starting to come out of the water. Their foul stench filled the cave with the smell of death. Templeton quickly stepped back through the iron door, closed it, and locked it. As he told the rest of the party about the foul creatures he could here them scratching at the iron door and sniffing.

Knowing they were completely outmatched by the horde of ghasts, the party went back up the stairs and shut the secret door. They left the main part of the keep and began to explore the rest of the outbuildings. They found some additional guard quarters. All of the chests had been ransacked and anything of value had been taken. There was a stable in a severe state of disrepair. There was also a weapons room. Kareep took 2 javelins and Puck procured one of the light crossbows. Everyone replenished their stock of crossbow bolts.

As they grew closer to the southeast tower, Templeton noticed the large boat was unmoored from the keep and was being sailed towards the exit. There were three guards on board. Templeton ran forward and let loose a bolt from his crossbow nailing the guardsman in the rear of the boat manning the rudder. Templeton then ran acrobatically hopping over obstacles to get to from the keep wall to the top of the tower overlooking the boat.

Puck managed to hit the same guardsman with a fire bolt and killed him. The boat floated a bit more awkwardly towards the exit with anyone at the helm. Kareep and Quintus tried to get closer and attack with javelins and crossbow but missed. Templeton yelled down to Quintus to try and raise the chain blocking the exit from the keep. He fired two shots from his hand crossbows, taking careful aim and slaying both of the remaining guardsman on the boat. He then dove into the water some 30 feet below to try and climb aboard and stop the boat.

Quintus opened the door to the tower and saw the mechanism to raise the chain preventing egress of the boat. However, he also saw a fathomer and three reavers.

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The Fall of the Wereboar
And Uh oh... this keep has a lot more guys

The battle in the main audience chamber of the river keep raged on. The main threat was Jolliver Grimjaw a powerful wereboar in hybrid form whose enchanted lycanthropic hide was immune to nonmagical or non-silverred weapons. Also in the large room were 2 reavers (men with custom swords lined with shark’s teeth), the guard captain, and 2 fathomers. The fathomers were some sort of water elemental priests. They could take the form of water and envelope opponents. They could also turn invisible and use vampiric touch. Very elusive fellows.

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A Fathomer suddenly appeared next to Templeton and enveloped him in his watery form. His vampiric touch ability drained Templeton’s life and healed the Fathomer of damage. Templeton managed to get free of the Fathomer as it slinked away turning invisible once more.

Templeton used silvered bolts from his crossbow to great effect against Jolly. Quintus also was able to use his spiritual hammer to damage the creature. But the crossbow bolts from Templeton were biting deep and causing him a lot of damage so he focused his viscous attacks on Templeton and managed to cut him down with his claws and tusks.

With Templeton down and bleeding to death, Puck sprung into action. The crafty gnome cast a blur spell enabling him to run away to the edge of the battle. The opportunity attacks all missed as they were confused by the shifting image of the gnome’s little body. Puck followed up with a blast of Aganazzer’s Scorcher that ripped through the line of opponents burning them all with fire. To everyone’s great relief Jolly fell, the great were-boar’s charred body hitting the ground then slowly transforming back into the shape of a man.

Quintus was then able to cut down the guard captain with his greatsword and cast a healing spell that brought Templeton back up. The two reavers were slain and the main door was closed and barred. Jolliver’s corpse was searched. A book and a key were found on his person. Both were taken by Kareep. The party then began to search the keep room by room looking for the fathomer that had escaped invisibly.

A room above the balcony was found that had water on the floor. It was thought this must belong to one of the fathomers. Great care was taken to try and find him but he was not there. There was a secret door in the room leading to a treasure room. A chest was found containing a sack of 30 GP, 80 SP, 2 scrolls, and 4 jaspers (worth 70 GP each).

Another room was searched containing two chests. One contained 600 GP and the other 450 EP and a pouch with 15 blue azurites worth 10 GP each. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

In the haste to explore and ferret out the Fathomers, Quintus and Puck got ahead of Templeton and Kareep. A door leading outside of the keep to the top of the keep’s wall was discovered. When Quintus stepped through with Puck on the other side, the fathomer’s struck by shutting the door and separating them. Each of them was attacked by a fathomer individually. Puck yelled for aid. Templeton came running and attacked the Fathomer helping Puck and managed to open the door seeing Quintus battling the other Fathomer out on the keep’s wall.

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In order to get around and attack from the other side, Kareep flew down and opened the main door to the keep. As he rounded one of the interior walls he saw Quintus and the fathomer battling up a flight of stairs on the wall of the keep. However, he also saw 4 more reavers and 4 more guards waiting for some sign of what to do. Seeing Kareep they ran out to attack.

Kareep flew up on the roof to escape reinforcements. There he hid while Quintus got back inside and shut and bared the outer door leading to the wall of the keep. They were fairly certain that the fathomers were on the other side of the door but with their use of invisibility it was not certain.

Puck and Templeton and Quintus raced down to secure the main door which Kareep had left open. But they were too late. A reaver and a guard had entered and were between them and the door. Puck bravely raced over to get into position to close the door and to draw the attention of the enemies so that Templeton could make his crossbow shots really count by using sneak attacks.

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Into the Keep
And into the Frying Pan

After finally making contact with a keep that had similar keel boats to those used by the humans and bugbears making their escape, The Four made camp one final time with the intention of visiting the next day.

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That evening the party was attacked by 4 Ghouls and a Ghast. The hideous creatures came right in to camp having smelled the scent of the living. Kareep was roosting and everyone else was asleep down beneath his tree. The night was pitch black and although Templeton was awakened by the noise of their movement, he could not see the undead. He was hit a few time by the ghouls and could feel the icy grip of their evil try to paralyze him. He somehow managed to resist and fired a heavy crossbow bolt blindly into the nearest ghoul.

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Quintus and Puck were also attacked. But Puck was the only one who could see. Quintus did not fare as well against the evil paralysis. There was also a notable stench from the ghast. Templeton was so overcome by it that he was at disadvantage on his attacks. Kareep finally realized what was going on and lit the driftglobe to illuminate the battle unfolding below him.

Quintus managed to shake off the ghoul’s paralysis and tried to turn the creatures by using the holy power of Tempus. The ghast actively resisted, however, bolstering the ghouls and himself with a foul unholy power. Only one of the ghouls was affected and ran away at top speed. Quintus got an opportunity attack but missed.

Puck used his shield magic to protect himself and his teleportation magic to put some distance between him and the undead. From the safety of the longer range he unleashed a series of Aganazzer’s Scorchers by expertly winding the fire around his friends and only striking the remaining undead. Between that and Kareep’s lance attacks and Templeton’s deadly crossbow shots, eventually the undead were all destroyed.

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Quintus and Kareep doled out much healing magic to get everyone’s strength back up. The group then settled down and managed to complete an extended rest. The group had to sleep in a bit in order to make up for the time lost to the undead attack but everyone had all of their resources back. A place found to hide the horses and ponies with only one way in. That way was covered by a hunting trap laid by Templeton. Quintus moved some heavy tree limbs and thorny brush in front of the only way in to deter any predators.

The four then set off to reach the keep. Kareep flew them across the river one by one out of site of the keep and they crept up quietly. Seeing that the approach was too difficult to sneak up, the group took the direct approach. They walked right up to the front door (gate) and knocked loudly.

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The door was answered through an arrow slit above the gatehouse by a human man. Templeton asked for shelter as they were recently attacked by undead in the wilds surrounding the keep. He said the four were travelers from Beliard making their way to Red Larch. The gatekeeper was reluctant to let them in until Templeton offered him some gold to which he happily accepted.

The huge gate was opened and the gatekeeper said his name was Holgar. He took Templeton’s 5 gold coins and brought them through the keep into a large room with a short and muscular human man with nasty scars and thick bristly hair writing in a large book on a table. The man introduced himself as Jolliver Grimjaw. Another man was off to the side in finely guilded blue robes behind him.

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The party approached and Templeton began explaining that they were travelers seeking shelter when Jolliver cut him off and demanded that Quintus tell him what was happening. Quintus obliged and said essentially the same thing with some more colorful language. Kareep then suddenly thrust back his cloak to reveal his feathered head drawing everyone’s attention to him. Templeton used the distraction to catch a glimpse of the writing in the book open on the table in front of Jolliver. Templeton managed to read:

inventory list = wagon load of flour on B

But before he could read further the book suddenly slammed shut by itself. Kareep went on to explain that the group had cut some bugbear tracks and were following them for a time before losing the trail. He stated definitively that he hated bugbears. Jolliver said, ‘Bugbears you say… well I am afraid that means only one thing… Kill them! Kill them all!’ Jolliver grabbed hold of the table and broke chunks of it off in his fists as a transformation overtook him. He suddenly turned into a wereboar hybrid form, took two steps back, and charged Quintus. He slashed down with his claws into Quintus and raked his terrible tusks in an upwards arc goring Quintus. In a dramatic splatter of blood and gore, Quintus went down hard losing all his HP in 1 attack.

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Templeton, having read a thing or two about lycanthropes, already had a firm grip on his heavy crossbow. He quickly switched out the bolt for one made of silver with one fluid motion and let it fly. The silvered bolt buried itself deep into Jolliver Grimjaw‘s flank. The beast howled in rage as the silver seemed to burn like acid. Templeton then used his bonus action to control his mage hand spell. The invisible hand took his potion out of his pouch and poured it down the throat of a battered and bloody Quintus lying on the ground at Templeton’s feet. Templeton then moved to a flanking position.

Kareep flew up and struck hard with his lance. But his inexperience with lycanthropes showed as the metal spear glanced off the hide of the were-boar without doing any damage at all. Seeing this raised the alarm for Puck. He pulled out his wand of magic missiles and unleashed every charge he could spare and pounded them into Jolliver Grimjaw. The little gnome then ran under the table to hide.

Holger the gatekeeper came running in at that point, grabbed the table Puck was hiding under and flipped it over. The robed man in the corner disappeared suddenly, probably turning invisible. At the same time two large men with longswords came running down the stairs to flank Templeton and Kareep. The longswords were lined with what looked like shark’s teeth and seemed quite viscous indeed. Templeton had to use his shield spell to keep them at bay but Kareep took a nasty hit.

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Quintus now conscious from Templeton’s potion of healing stood up and used his bonus action to cast a spiritual hammer right above Jolliver. He brought the hammer made of pure force down hard on the wereboar. He then used his action to heal himself with a cure wounds spell.

[Notes = Quintus cast 1 second level spell and 1 first level spell. He has 20 HP currently.]

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Beliard and Beyond
The Hunt for the Caravan Continues

The Four arrive in Beliard, a bit weary, particularly Templeton, but the pleasantness of the town raises your spirits to some extent. As you enter the village, though you look battle-worn and dusty, the townsfolks don’t seem to pay you much mind. They must be used to travelers.

Upon further inspection, the town seems a bit smaller than Red Larch. At least, there doesn’t seem to be the breadth of businesses you encountered there. The town center has a small square with somewhat active stalls. Surrounding the square are a tanner, a smith and numerous stables. However, the largest building by far, clearly a building that has been added onto many times over, is a prominently signed inn – The Watchful Knight.

Templeton brushes the dust off his traveling clothes and notices the wingwear he is wearing. ‘Gentlemen, to avoid any inappropriate associations I urge you to remove your wingwear for now and stow it away in a pack. We will not need it in town and I don’t want anyone who knows what it is to spot it on us.’ Templeton removes the wingwear and stows it in his backpack. He straightens his tussled mop of hair and says, ‘Now on to more important things. I have had about enough of this walking through the wilds nonsense. Follow me to The Watchful Knight. There is properly cooked food and good drink in our future lads.’

With that Templeton heads straight to The Watchful Knight. He will enter the establishment and immediately enquire about food and drink for himself and his traveling companions. He also would like to book a room for the night that has access to a hot bath and Waterdavian soaps.

As we sit and eat our food and drink, Templeton will listen intently to the other conversations in the inn and tray to take measure of anyone in the dining room, the innkeeper, and the staff.

Puck nods his readily and removes his wingwear and stows it. ’Let’s also keep in mind that we will need mounts. Once we’ve had a chance to rest and reconnoiter a bit, we should go to the stables an inquire about horses. Perhaps there will be another caravan that we might join as well. This is rough country.’

Kareep ditches the shield from Feathergale Spire in the morning and keeps cloaked and hooded in Beliard and the Watchful Knight. The only thing he is interested in purchasing is a shield and possibly healing potions. He asks Templeton to make the transaction for him for the shield as he does not wish to cause any problems. He will be quiet and respectful if approached by any townsfolk.

You enter The Watchful Knight in the early evening hours. The tavern room is quite sizable and seems to be filling up quickly. You find yourselves a table off to the side and soon a hearty serving woman arrives to take your orders of food and rooms. (2gp each for good rooms, drink and meals).

The majority of the patrons seem to be in relatively good spirits and hail from a variety of venues, both local and distant. There seem to be plenty of local workers and farmers as well as caravan guards and such. There does seem to be another ‘class’ of folks as well. Overhearing conversations, you get the sense that a number of older guards and caravan-related folks that seem to have settled locally as well.

You do catch sight of the proprieter of the inn, one Neshor Fleurdin. He seems busy, focused but reasonably jovial.

After filling his belly, drinking more than his fill, taking a bath, and changing into some clean clothes Templeton sets about working the room. He wants to have a conversation with Neshor Fleurdin and some of the caravan folks. He is going to ask about ask about the caravan from Mirabar. How long ago did it leave Beliard? Any word on its fate as it is overdue? Was it headed south towards summit hall? He also wants to inquire about some services in town. In particular he is looking for a temple and a brothel. Or even better a temple that is a brothel.

Kareep will have a good meal but when Templeton returns to work the tavern after his bath, he will stay in their room. Kareep will cast primeval awareness before going to sleep. Kareep’s casting of Primeval Awareness reveals nothing untoward.

While waiting for Neshor, Templeton works the room for other information, he does hear one other account of interest. A cattle drover by the name of Eann says he met the caravan about 10 miles south of town. Apparently they got at least that far.

Eann also says later that day he saw a group of warriors in sky-blue armor and white cloaks, flying on giant vultures fly overhead heading south in the same direction as the caravan.

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After insisting speaking with Neshor himself, a serving maiden eventually retrieves him. He sits down at your table, sitting with a straight back, and inquires politely, ‘Yes, Mr. Daltrey, how can I help you. Ah, you are inquiring about the Waterdaevian delegation that has gone missing? Well, I certainly spoke to them before they left. They were well stocked and provisioned. They seemed like capable folk with clear goals. They were headed south along the Dessarin Road, of course, with clear intent to deliver the body of a fallen knight to Summit Hall.’

‘In addition, I have heard Senya, one of my serving maidens, speak of seeing a strange monk wearing a golden mask observing the Mirabarrans when they stayed here at The Knight. She says the monk left some hours before the caravan departed south. No one has seen any of them since.’

‘Is there anything else, Mr. Templeton? Ah, brothels and temples. Ah, well… I can certainly arrange for a visitor this evening, but there is no brothel in town, I’m afraid. There is a small temple to Lathander, the God of Birth and Renewal just outside of town.’

Neshor responds, ‘Everything I have heard suggests the caravan never made it to Summit Hall. But, of course, I can’t verify such rumors.’

‘Of course, you can speak with Senya when her shift is over… I don’t want her distracted while working of course.’

‘The Lathander Temple is just outside of town on the Dessarin Road as you would head to Summit Hall.’

‘There is no formal book shop in Beliard, but my father, Old Man Nestor, is a bit of a collector. I can introduce you if you like, in the morning.’

He nods and takes the gold.

‘Thank you, Neshor. I would be honored to meet your father in the morning. That would be delightful. I know that there were Mirabar dwarves amongst the caravan. But did you know if there were any Waterdhavian nobility amongst the caravan when it left Beliard? A woman perhaps?’

Before leaving, Neshor responds, ‘I do seem to remember mention of a Waterdhavian contingent. However, I never spoke with anyone directly from Waterdeep.’

Sometime later, after the dinner rush, a young woman approaches and shyly says her name is Senya. ‘Yes, sir? You had a question?’

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‘Ah, hello. You must be Senya. It’s a pleasure to meet you my dear. My name is Templeton Daltrey of The Waterdeep Daltrey’s. Please now that things have cleared out a bit let’s move over to a place with a bit more privacy.’

Templeton will usher her over to a booth in the corner – somewhere out of easy earshot and eyeshot of others.

After they are seated he will continue, ‘I am here in town looking for a lost caravan from Mirabar. Neshor tells me you saw a suspicious fellow in a mask watching the caravan before it left town. I was hoping that you could do me favor and think really hard about that masked man and describe him to me.’ As she describes the masked monk to Templeton he is going to wink at her and say, ‘Don’t be alarmed I am going to cast a magical spell to create an image as you describe it.’ As she describes the monk Templeton will use minor illusion to create a scale image of the man only 1 foot tall standing on the table in such a way as to avoid anyone else in the tavern from seeing. He will further refine the image as she describes it to try to get a really good picture of what this monk looked like. He will ask about other distinguishing marks besides the golden mask. Any tattoos or symbols on his robes. In particular he will use his illusion magic to show her the air cult symbol and the other symbols he knows and ask if she recognizes any of those symbols as part of his garb or saw anyone else with those markings.

Does she remember anything the strange man did? Did he speak to anyone? Does she remember anything else that was strange or memorable about the Mirabar Delegation. Was there a Waterdahiavn noblewoman present?

Senya arrives some time later and follows you to the back of the room. She seems fascinated by the illusion and engages enthusiastically. After 20 minutes or so, given your passive insight, you end up with an image that you believe might be a bit hyperbolic. Senya’s memory does not seem precise, she has changed her mind a couple of times throughout the process, and you think she is taken with the ability to form an image via magic.

The image is of a very tall and thin humanoid figure in a long, deeply hooded black robe. The face is largely obscured, but seems to look like a grotesque, golden-faced gargoyle.

You inquire to get more details about it speaking or something else, but Senya is unable to provide any other details.

She has no other knowledge about other contingents in the caravan. All nobles ‘look the same’ to her.

Templeton smiles, ‘Thank you my dear Senya. You have been very helpful.’ Templeton slides 4 gold coins over the table to her. As she reaches for the coins he gently touches her hand with his own and looks into her eyes. ‘I am in room 42. If you join me later this evening you will find I have more than just illusion magic at my command…’ He uses his invisible mage hand to caress her cheek. “Magic can be quite useful when engaged in pleasures of the flesh. You could stand to earn a few more coins as well.”

Her eyes turn to confusion and then to fury. She picks up your mug of beer and sprays it into your face. She then shoves the coins back your direction, ‘I am a married woman, Mr. Templeton. I do not appreciate being approached in such a manner.’

She then stalks away.

Templeton wipes the beer from his face. And thinks, if I had a copper coin for every time that happened I would be a rich man. Oh wait I am a rich man! He cleans himself off and retires for the evening.

Everyone woke up the next day. Neshor introduced Puck and Templeton to his father, old man Nestor. But he seemed a bit dim witted and addled by age. The stop at the Lathander temple proved useful with each party member purchasing a potion of healing. Quintus and Templeton each purchased a horse and Puck purchased a pony. The master treasure list was updated.

The following morning, you head south along The Dessarin Road. You come across the small Lathander Temple and purchase potions. They are thankful for your “donation”.
The Dessarin Road leads south through the barren Sumber Hills. You don’t meet any other travelers this day, but you find evidence that the trail supports traffic—wagon ruts and mule droppings prove that people come this way on a regular basis. You find nothing else until near the end of the day when you are about fifteen miles south of Beliard. Kareep catches sight of a cloud of ravens and vultures circling a mile or so west of the trail.

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In a small dell a mile off the road, you find the clear remains of a battle. A dozen dead soldiers lie on the ground, dressed in black surcoats bearing the emblem of a red axe. Templeton recognizes the emblem as that of Mirabar.

Most of the soldiers appear to have died from battle injuries, although some lie in small craters or jumbles of broken rock. Abandoned and looted wagons lie nearby. A couple of broken trunks sit on the ground by the wagons. Two rock cairns—one large and one small—stand atop a hillside nearby.

Templeton looks through the broken trunks and finds little of value. The trunks have largely been emptied and only have some torn clothing as a lingering remainder.

Quintus carefully uncovers the large cairn first. He pulls off large rocks and unveils the body of a bugbear. He grunts in surprise and continues pulling away rocks. Eventually, Quintus uncovers the bodies of five dead bugbears in all. They are dressed in worn black leather armor with a strange triangular symbol – an exact replica of the one you found in the caverns beneath Red Larch.

The smaller cairn uncovers more quickly and contains only one body – that of a human woman in monk’s robes, with a strange golden mask shaped like a gargoyle face.

Using his knowledge in magic as well as the Detect Magic spell, Puck determines that there is the barest hint of lingering elemental-based magic. He thinks that perhaps the reason the carrion birds are just arriving, even though the battle was at least a week ago, is that the now fading magic kept them at bay for a while.

Further, the piles of rock and craters, as Templeton surmised, were the result of powerful earth-based battle magic.

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Kareep looks around and after a couple of minutes comes across a clear set of tracks heading west into the hills. You estimate there was likely 30-35 bugbears and medium-sized humanoids heading that direction.

Templeton surveys the scene and shakes his head in disgust. He covers his nose with a beautiful silk handkerchief embroidered with the letters TD to avoid the foul stench of the rotting bodies. “This golden masked monk is female. There is at least one more at large. The serving wench spotted a man wearing such a mask.” Templeton bends down and removes the golden mask and robes. He asks Puck to scan them for magic before tucking them into his pack. “This might prove useful later. It seems that in addition to hurricane monks we are facing some sort of black earth monks. These like to wear golden masks for some reason.”

‘This mark here.’ Templeton points to the symbol on the bugbear armor. ‘We have seen this before. It was worn by LaRock’s men. He was the one who eluded us and clearly used powerful earth magic to escape. It seems quite clear that the evidence before us combined with the letter on Thurl’s desk point to the responsible party for this attack actually being the black earth cult. Thurl and his Feathergale Knights simply took the opportunity to attack after the bugbear assault most likely. I believe we should track these bugbears back to wherever they came from and try to find any survivors.’

As best Quintus can ascertain, he believes the caravan was likely ambushed on the road and chased this direction into the hands of a larger ambush. Quintus knows Bugbears can be quite stealthy and enjoy ambushing, so perhaps they waited in ambush while others, the wielders of magic(?), chased them this direction.

Quintus also knows that though Bugbears like to bully the weak (goblins, hobgoblins and such), they will fight for powerful masters if bloodshed and booty is assured.

The only aspect of this battle that seems out of place to Quintus is that the bodies of the bugbears were encased in a cairn. They are known to normally leave wounded allies behind without a second thought. Burying their dead is certainly not one of their normal practices.

There isn’t so much a trail as clear tracks to follow. the group clearly wasn’t trying to hide its passage, and now that you have a good eye on the tracks, kareep can follow easily – even from 30-40 feet in the air if he wishes.

The horses could be lead easily. riding them is possible too though there is some small risk of injury.

After getting a small distance from the chaotic scuffling of the battle, Kareep flies low to the ground a few hundred feet ahead and expertly evaluates the tracks heading west.

After a few moments, Kareep chirps and calls the other to him. ‘There are 10 bugbear tracks and 18 humanoid tracks heading due west. These tracks are close to two tendays old. We are lucky there is has been little rain of late. The details might have been lost otherwise.’

At this point, the sun is beginning to set and you will have to make camp soon. Where do you want to camp?

Kareep does an excellent job of finding a secluded spot with a small cave to give you all cover from potential roving eyes through the night. The night proceeds uneventfully.

In the morning, Kareep picks up the trail where he left off. You travel for about 10 miles due west through the hills. With Kareep’s guidance you travel quickly and quietly. Near the end of the day, you come over a small esker and see the tracks lead down a short skree slope to the edge of a large river. Kareep knows this is the same river you flew over as you were headed to Beliard.

After investigating the riverbank, Kareep declares that there are several “gouges” at the water’s edge where the tracks end. Apparently, the bugbears and humanoids launched into the river with multiple keelboats headed south along the river’s course.

After discussion regarding the possibility of building our own raft or sending someone back to purchase a boat, it was decided to press on by foot. You actually don’t know whether the river is navigable by raft. You see evidence of keelboats here on the river’s edge – which are agile boats capable of carrying cargo. you suspect that some trade does happen along the river, but you have no idea whether a hand-built raft would hold up – particularly with horses on it.

Could Kareep guide the party and the horses south on a parallel course with the river (might be a mile east if necessary). My goal would be to scout ahead a ways down the river, then double back. Then lead the group south for about the same distance parallel to the river. Perhaps repeat this pattern a few times.

I want to study the marks on the river’s edge so I can try to find where they get off down river.

Kareep again finds an excellent spot to camp for the night. you find yourselves unmolested for the night.

The following day you head south following the river’s path. Kareep scouts ahead and then returns, finding you a safe path for the day. by the time the sun is near setting, you have traveled about 10 miles or so. There has been no sign of the bugbears or others.

You are ready to make camp again. Well done. Again, the evening passes uneventfully. you pack up, well-rested, onward to another day’s travel south along the river’s edge. the day itself passes quickly as you travel through the hills with kareep’s expert guidance.

roughly an hour before dusk, something in the distance breaks the regularity of hill terrain on the other side of the river. kareep catches sight of it first. he carefully leads the way and you find yourself on the opposite bank from a large stone keep that seems to be built partially into the embankment. there is access to the base of the keep via the river and you catch sight of a single moored keelboat. it’s hard to tell, but it also seems likely there is land-based access on the opposite of the keep as well.

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The keep looks very old, but does seem to be in reasonably good repair. It’s hard to tell much more than that without getting closer.

Having been watching the river throughout your journey south, Kareep is dubious there is any ford in the river safe enough for the horses – at least from what you’ve seen so far. Perhaps further south? perhaps not.

Kareep, go ahead and give me one more survival check to find a place to camp.

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Flying Over the Sumber Hills
Ankhegs and Perytons Oh My!

The Four outfitted their 2 hippogriffs and set off out of Feathergale Spire with Puck and Templeton riding one of the Hippogriffs and Quintus riding the other. Kareep flew using his own wings. A quick hour long fly over of the canyon adjacent to Feathgale Spire revealed a few things of interest including a tribe of gnolls in the southwest portion of the howling plateau and some interesting looking caves. The bodies of the dead hurricane monks were also removed from where they had fallen in the previous day’s battle.

The party then took wing to the north flying over the Sumber Hills on a two day journey to the town of Beliard. At the end of the first day, the party touched down in a place of Kareep’s choosing that looked defensible and well hidden. The Hippogriffs seemed a bit nervous and on edge. In order to help put them at ease, Templeton walked out of site and cloaked himself in the guise of a Feathergale Knight using his disguise self spell. That seemed to calm one of the hippogriffs but not the other.

During the night there was a tremor in the ground and two huge Ankheg erupted from the earth to attack. The huge ant like insect creatures spit streams of acid and delivered terrible bites with their deadly mandibles. One of the hippogriffs flew off in terror but the other one stayed and fought back against the Ankhegs. Quintus struck hard and fast with his greatsword and Templeton fired point blank shots with his hand crossbow to take out one of the giant insects. Puck eventually dealt with the other one using his Aganazzer’s Scorcher spell. Kareep mounted the remaining hippogriff and went off in search of the hippogriff that had fled but there was no sign of it. The party was down to only one hippogriff and they were deep in the middle of the sumber hills far away from any roads or settlements. But they made the best of it with Quintus unleashing the power of Tempus to heal the acid burns and bites suffered by the party. They finished their extended rest but left camp well into late morning due to the evening’s interruption.

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With only one hippogriff left, Quintus and Templeton rode it while Kareep carried Puck in his special leather harness. The late start and the heavier burdens extended the journey to Beliard and forced the party to make camp at dusk still well within the wilds of the Sumber Hills. As they were making camp two large forms streaked out of the sky to attack. Two perytons, half eagle – half stag enchanted creatures, were attracted by the hippogriff who as it turns out are mortal enemies of each other. A critical gore attack against the hippogriff by one of the perytons spelled the end for the unfortunate hippogriff. The huge antlers of the peryton pierced the hippogriffs hide very deep and tossed it aside. Quintus also was hit by antlers and talons during deadly fly by attacks. The party fought back bravely but found the hide of the enchanted perytons was magically tough. The creatures had resistance to most attacks reducing them to half damage.

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An amazing critical shot by Templeton killed one of the perytons. The other was slain through a coordinated attack between Quintus’ guided bolt, Puck’s ray of sickness, and Kareep’s hurled javelin. Kareep took some nasty damage but was saved by Puck’s ray of sickness which caused the Peryton to attack with disadvantage. Templeton’s steady aim proved quite useful as he patiently waited for the peryton to use its fly by attack to be adjacent to a party member before loosing his bolt in order to get sneak attack damage every time.

Again Quintus and Kareep healed everyone except for the poor hippogriff who had taken such massive damage (more than twice his HP) that he was beyond any help that could be provided. Templeton sighed. Now the party had to finish the trek on foot. Luckily they made it the rest of the way to Beliard without incident. But the heady days of flying about the countryside on hippogriffs were no more.

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