Apocalyptica

At Long Last: Contact with Marlos

The Stonemelder was doing something by the large pit of boiling mud. Brenn ran in to close but found 2 additional Stonemelders waiting for him. He called back to the rest of the party and everyone tried to make their way in as fast as possible.

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Between Brenn’s flashing blade and Templeton’s heavy bolts, two of the Stonemelders went down quickly. But one of them unleashed a powerful earthquake type spell that showered certain areas with rock and rubble making difficult terrain and injuring those in the blast radius. Also 3 Nothics appeared to help in the attack.

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But the earth cultists were quickly dealt with and the area was searched. A leather pouch containing 91 GP, 2 garnets worth 100 GP each, and a Potion of Thunder Resistance was found. A crystal Breast Plate bearing the symbol of the earth cult was also found. It was a breastplate + 1. Templeton put all of the treasure in the bag of holding. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

During a short rest, Quintus cast a hero’s feast spell which created a table full of food that everyone in the party ate heartily of. It made everyone immune to poison and fright. It also gave everyone advantage on any WIS saves.

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Then a large cave was discovered with an altar at the far end. Praying at the altar with an iron military pick raised over his head was none other than Marlos Urnrayle. The weapon he held was most likely Ironfang. Two earth cult guards wearing stone armor flanked Marlos and began to move forward and they saw Brenn charge into the room. Four gargoyles also flew from their stony perches to land nearby.

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Marlos set off a powerful earthquake spell that slowed everyone down. But Brenn had the speed to move forward quickly. Quintus was able to jump over the difficult terrain. Badding was able to fly over it. Templeton used a scroll of Investiture of Stone to flow through the very rock with earth glide. Puck used dimension door to appear directly next to Marlos in a very aggressive move. And an earth elemental came up from underneath Brenn to attack him twice.

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Hook Horror Swarm!
Templeton's Dead Again?

Quintus being possessed by the ghost of a duergar attacked the party. Brenn went toe to toe with him using the flat of his sword to try and knock him out and force the ghost to leave his friend’s body. Templeton fired some bolts from Sky Piercer and Puck cast some spells while Badding used Wind Vane. Quintus fought hard but was eventually brought down. The Duergar ghost emerged screaming some nonsense about the curse of the Bessilmir dwarves before Brenn ran him through with his flaming longsword.

In the center of the room was a large Crown with 7 spikes protruding from the top. Fearing the return of the specters that Quintus had turned, the party headed back the way they came to explore a different passageway. There they found a huge cavern filled with purple crystal.

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Brenn walked through the crystals only to find them dizzying and disorienting. He suddenly stopped moving and became overwhelmed and confused just standing and staring into the myriad crystals. Quintus ran in after him and managed to withstand the strange effect of the crystal cave. He grabbed Brenn and dragged him out of the cave and he quickly regained his senses. Wanting to avoid this room, the party followed a different path and it led to a large cavern bisected by a long bridge.

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The vast bottom of the cavern seemed to be empty of any creatures but a strange clicking and clacking sound could be heard. Badding and Puck flew across the bridge without any trouble. but when they landed on the other side, 2 galeb duhr rock creatures animated from the solid rock to attack them. Templeton ran across the bridge to lend his aid when 2 additional galeb duhr animated and rolled across the bridge, knocking him off down to the cavern floor below. Once he hit the floor, a swarm of hook horrors poured out of crevices in the rock to attack.

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The swarm of hook horrors overwhelmed Templeton and he went down in a bloody mess of clicking and clacking hooks and claws of the heavily armored carapaces. Quintus fought his way next to the fallen Templeton, and cast a healing spell to bring him back up. Templeton used his gaseous form boon granted to him by The Revenant to float away down the hall. But when he solidified to fire his crossbow in battle, a huge form emerged from the rock to attack him. It was the earth elemental myrmidon from the adjacent room who had been attracted by the sounds of battle. With one mighty swing of his enormous fist, Templeton went down again.

Puck flew in action blasting the hook horrors apart with fireballs and vitriolic spheres. He then boldly strode towards the earth elemental myrmidon and with a wave of his hand cast a banishment to hurl the creature back to the elemental plane of earth. Quintus had been surrounded by the hook hoorors after helping Templeton. He was hurt badly, but instead of healing himself called upon Tempus to strike down his foes summoning a blade barrier. The swirling blades ripped the remaining hook horrors apart.

Brenn and Badding had each taken out the galeb duhr on top of the bridge. The fight had taken its toll. After the battle was won, the party retreated to their hiding hole made by Quintus and his Claws of the Umberhulk. During the rest, Puck identified the magic helmet as The Crown of 7 Spikes. Quintus claimed the crown and put it on his head.

Moving forward after the rest, the party encountered some earth cult members meditating by some crystal formations. A full attack was launched.

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During the battle some reinforcements arrived in the form of 3 powerful bulettes.

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All the bulletes and cultists were slain except for one who got away. but he was chased down to another room.

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Ropin' Gnomes
Somethings Gotten Into Quintus

When asked by Stonemelder to give an offering to the Xorn, Brenn Buckman smiled and said, ‘I have your offering right here.’ He drew his flaming longsword and shoved it into the earth cultists back and then spun around and slashed down into the Xorn for good measure.

‘No you fool!’ cried Stonemelder. ‘That is an emissary. We need to curry its favor.’

The rest of the party soon moved in and Stonemelder was cut down. The Xorn was also delivered a powerful beating. The creature managed to use its earthglide to move through the solid rock of the floor and disappear. It had either fled or was waiting for an opportune time to strike.

Templeton searched Stonemelder’s body to find a pouch with 2 gems worth 50 GP each. He also found a folded scroll. Quintus grabbed one of the gems out of Templeton’s hands and tossed it onto the ground. ‘Soo-eee!’, he yelled… ‘Soo-eee!’. But his pig call was in vain the Xorn did not re-appear.

Templeton scouted ahead and found a huge room with a river of mud. There were several passages to explore beyond the river, but the party circled back to the Xorn room and headed east. .

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They tried sneaking though a large cavern with stalactites and stalagmites. Suddenly one of the columns of stone turned out to be a roper and attacked. Its nasty tentacle coiled around wee Puck and dragged the gnome into the creature’s gaping maw.

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Templeton had a good shot on the creature from a hidden position and took full advantage with a wicked sneak attack shot. Brenn attacked the roper in melee and used his commander’s strike to give Templeton another shot. And again Templeton took advantage sending the heavy crossbow bolt deep into the creature’s soft fleshy area behind its teeth. Finally Puck, tired of being torn to shreds by the Roper’s teeth unleashed a firebolt that put the creature down. A thorough examination of the Roper’s lair yielded a magic ring of Swimming mixed in with many bones. Brenn donned the ring.

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Further exploration beyond revealed another large room with a river of mud. But the party decided to circle back to a long passageway filled with bones. They were not surprised to find undead. Four specters and a ghost rose up out of the floor to attack.

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Quintus was ready. He brandished his holy symbol and invoked the power of Tempus. The 4 specters were filled with terror at the site of this holy man and his devotion to the god of battle. But the ghost was not afraid. He spoke a warning of the dwarven curse of the Bessilmir dwarves, but it went unheeded as Quintus pushed forward to lay some blessings upon him with his greatsword.

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But the ghost unleashed its horrific gaze and went right inside the body of Quintus.

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It was clear that the creature was now in control of Quintus’ mind and body. He turned to attack the party. Badding cast dispel magic in an effort to push the undead creature out of Quintus’ body. But it failed to remove the possessing spirit.

Brenn approached cautiously. As he gripped his sword he said grimly to Quintus, ‘Sorry lad… This is just the way its gotta be if you are to be free of that thing inside you.’

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Down into the Black Geode

While Puck used his Bigby’s Hand spell to hold the southern group of minotaurs at bay, the battle with Zegdar and the Emberhorn Minotaurs in the northern tunnel continued. Templeton fired crossbow shots down the tunnel while Quintus and Badding tried to hold the line against the raging Minotaurs. But Zegdar was mighty indeed. He charged up the stairs and swung his huge axe at both of them and gored them with his deadly horns. Templeton fired again and withdrew hiding around the corner. Badding and Quintus withdrew thinking that the large creature would not be able to fit through the dwarf sized doorway.

Zegdar taught them that sometimes big creatures can fit through tiny holes. The giant minotaur smashed through the doorway as stone cracked and flew apart around him. He bowled over Brenn and Templeton as he raged through intent on killing the entire party. Viscous axe blows and gore attacks left many in the party bloodied and hurt badly. Puck made the dangerous decision to move the Bigby’s Hand. It opened the southern passageway but Puck used the hand to pummel Zegdar with deadly barrages from the clenched fist. Zegdar stumbled and then Templeton fired a bolt right into his eye and felled the beast.

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Brenn filled the gap in the southern passage and managed to hold it, limiting the two minotaurs to attacking one at a time. It was just a matter of time before the were worn down and defeated. The rest of the level was finally explored revealing a room with two dead emberhorn minotaurs and the air elemental myrmidon that Badding had dominated with Wind Vane. It seems his command to attack the fire cult had worked and helped. In Zegdar’s room Templeton found a coffer filled with 130 SP, 220 GP, and 10 hematites worth 50 GP each. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

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The group took an extended rest in their hidey hole and went up to 11th level. Freshly rested and at full strength the group had many choices on how to proceed. There was the windy pit, the fire floating disc, the crystal caves. In the end the party decided to go down the crystal caves route. Brenn led the way down the long tunnels filled with glowing purple crystals. It finally led to a large cave guarded by 2 earth cultists. They had arrived at The Black Geode.

Templeton turned invisible and snuck past the two guards to explore the the other side of the chamber. There were two large statues but more importantly 2 huge earth elementals rose out of the earth to attack. They had detected the invisible Templeton with their tremorsense. Templeton was pummeled but he sprinted for the safety of his friends, warning them of the danger. Bren raced forward to help his little friend. A melee erupted between the two guards and the rest of the party with the elementals surfacing to attack as well.

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As the earth elementals surfaced Templeton would fire readied shots at the creatures. Brenn, Badding, and Quintus hit the cultists with wicked melee attacks. And eventually all the creatures were laid low.

In the next area, a strange earth cultist seemed to be summoning some sort of creature. As Brenn approached the cultist asked Brenn a some sort of question. Brenn walked up to talk to him but instead he shrugged and answered with some aggressive negotiations with a flaming longsword.

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Charming the Air Myrmidon

Trying to make sure that there was nothing more hidden on this level, Quintus used his Claws of the Umberhulk to tunnel around the foul black smoke. He burst forth into a large room that smelled horribly of death. Bodies of many fire and earth cultists littered the floor in this room. As Quintus moved in the air swirled around him and in front of him materialized 3 air elemental Myrmidons. They each attacked Quintus in rapid succession and in 1 round brought him all the way to negative hit points. The brave cleric fell to the ground. Brenn ran in and dragged Quintus out of the room. Badding flew into the room and brandished Wind Vane. He spoke in Auran to the air elementals. He said that he had killed Aerisi Kalinoth and that he was now leader of the air cult. He then used the power of Wind Vane to dominate one of the air elemental myrmidons.

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With one of the myrmidons under his control he convinced the other two to stand down. The dominated one was commanded to follow the party. He was then asked many questions about the conflict between the cults and what else was here. Eventually Badding commanded the myrmidon to attack the fire cultist minotaurs.

Next the party investigated an old sarcophagus. Brenn opened it enough for a glowing sword to come flying out and attacking everyone. Templeton got close enough to use his mage hand to search the inside of the sarcophagus only to find it filled with old bones and dust. Badding managed to save the day by casting a dispel magic that destroyed the flying sword after it had done some serious damage to the party and was clearly immune to physical attacks from Brenn and Quintus.

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Templeton then turned invisible and scouted the minotaur area. He found a much larger complex than expected but was spotted by a nothic named Wyx. Apparently the air myrmidon had been destroyed by the minotaurs or it withdrew after getting hit by them. In any event, a battle had been started.

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Zegdar – the minotaur chief and 3 other emberhorn minotaurs were attacking. Zegdar and and 1 other smushed past Wyx and were caught single file in the hallway defended by Badding, Quintus, and Templeton. While Puck and Brenn were surprised by the two others who had run around the other way.

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In order to prevent a battle on two fronts, Puck wisely cast a Bigby’s interposing hand spell to block the southern passage and prevent the two minotaurs from getting through to himself and Brenn.

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Aerisi Falls
Windvane Claimed

The party decided to explore a passage leading out of the old mining room with the dwarf specters to the southwest. Templeton used his stealth to sneak down. He found a staircase leading up to a room filled with at least 3 minotaurs. The tunnel then ended in the same black smoke that was seen elsewhere. After a quick discussion it was decided that the minotaurs would be skipped. There was no sense in fighting them. We wanted to find the cultists.

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Thinking that the cultists were most likely beyond the black mist, the party chose to go back to the room where the they battled the two giants. From there, Quintus cast a silence spell and then he used the Claws of the Umberhulk to tunnel around the black mist. The party easily moved around the mist and into a large room with a strange statue dominated the center. It was a large eye floating above mist. Templeton and Puck thought they must be getting close to The Fane of The Eye.

Brenn boldly went first and found the room empty but for the statue and 3 other passageways out of the room covered in black mist that looked from the map that they led back to where we had been before. One passage to the southwest, however, had no mist and opened up into another large room. In it were 6 air cultists and 4 hurricane monks. Another familiar face also came into view – that of Windharrow. The party had slain her previously and left her for dead, but apparently she had somehow escaped.

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Brenn made first contact and held the narrow passageway as the hurricaine monks tried to maneuver around him with their great speed. But Brenn would have none of it. He used his sentinel feat to stop in them in their tracks when trying to move past him. Everyone else was moving up to get in the fight when none other than Aerisi Kalinoth her self showed up to join the fight. She began by casting a cloudkill that engulfed Brenn, Badding, and Templeton. Quintus jumped over using his ring and and cast a dispel magic to eliminate the cloud. Templeton tried to get a bead on either Aerisi or Windharrow but they were moving into the passage, casting spells, and then moving away making it difficult to target them.

Templeton used invisibility with a readied crossbow shot to wait for one of them to appear and then fire but it took a long time to set up. Puck moved up with a Blur spell going to offer flanking for Brenn but more importantly to counter spells. When Aerisi cast chain lightning and Puck managed to counter it – there was much rejoicing.

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The fight raged on with Brenn going toe to toe with the hurricane monks and doing a great job of soaking up their attacks which had a hard time hitting his AC. Templeton stayed away from shooting at the monks, knowing that they could snatch his bolts right out of the air. Puck tried using a cone of cold to get the monks since it had a CON save instead of dex, but Aerisi Kalinoth counterspelled it. Finally a chain lightning spell got through and Brenn, Badding, and Puck were fried. Puck especially had failed his save and was out of range of Badding’s aura of spell resistance. Everyone was healed by Quintus though and Puck was able to cast improved invisibility on Templeton. This enabled him to always be ready and really nail both Windharrow and Aerisi Kalinoth every round.

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Windharrow hit Badding with a few shatter spells with one of them being countered by Puck. But Aerisi used a two lightning bolts to great effect, but Badding’s aura of magic resistance really helped everyone minimize the damage greatly. All of the monks had fallen leaving the passageway open for Templeton to bolt through. He found that Windharrow had disappeared but Aerisi was still there. He fired a well placed bolt through her left shoulder. She cried out in pain and disappeared. Furious that she might escape again. Templeton called out for aid. Badding grabbed Puck and flew up into the room. At th every top of the pyramid they saw Aerisi Kalinoth sitting atop of it on a throne.

Templeton ran up the steep 70 foot high pyramid steps to get blasted by an ice storm cast by Aerisi. Luckily, Templeton kept his footing and made it to the top of the tower. Still invisible, he took careful aim and pulled the trigger on Sky Piercer. The bolt pierced Aerisi straight through the forehead. He head snapped back, he body went limp, and then seemed to explode as if unleashing some sort of violent storm contained within her. The force of the blast blew Templeton straight back and off the edge of the pyramid for a 70 foot fall. Luckily he used his Wingwear to take flight and circle back around to land on the top of the pyramid once more.

Brenn and Quintus cut through the last of the air cultists, knocking one out and taking him prisoner for good measure. Puck and Badding landed softly on the top of the pyramid next to Templeton and saw Aerisi’s spear Windvane on the ground next to the throne.

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In searching the throne, Templeton touched it and pulled away in pain at the power of the object. Puck used an identify on the spear and found it had the following powers:
- +2 silvered weapon
- Has the finesse property (feels almost insubstantial in hand)
- +2d6 lightning damage on a hit
- Wielder can speak Auran fluently
- Resistance to lightning
- 1/day can cast Dominate Monster (DC 17) on an Air Elemental.

There were additional nuances that were vague that identify was not able to determine. The power of the weapon overwhelmed the spell.

- Something to do with an air node. Maybe some power there?

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Bow Your Heads and Remember Valor

The party went north into the room filled with fungi. A newly summoned Widget flew through the room first with Puck looking through his eyes. But half way through the room, Widget simply ceased to be. He had been destroyed by something but it wasn’t clear what. In order to mitigate possible poison from the fungi, Templeton and Quintus each drank one of Templeton’s 2 vials of anti-toxin. This would give them advantage on poison saves. Brenn Buckman was first into the room. He moved swiftly just trying to get clear of the fungi. But halfway through the room he was attacked. strange mushroom creatures attacked with fungal pseudopods. Brenn was hurt but he pushed on just trying to get clear of the room. Everyone else also tried to move quickly through the room. But the fungi creatures were everywhere and slowing everyone down. Puck decided that enough was enough. He lit off a fireball that engulfed the entire room. All the mushroom creatures were destroyed and all the fungi burned into a foul noxious cloud that hung over the entire room.

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Everyone ran north to try and get clear. Everyone made it out but all but Brenn were under the effects of a poisoned condition. This would mean attacking and ability checks would be at disadvantage. This was too great a penalty to lve with. So everyone made their way back to the hidey hole. There they found that Don had left. He had decided to try and make it back up through the temple by himself and take his chances. Puck scribed scrolls as we waited long enough to take an extended rest. After completing the good rest, the poison effects finally wore off.

With everyone back to full strength, the party went north of the fungi room and into a room with 2 huge giants. Their names were Maul and Karg. They didn’t seem too smart but they were very strong and very tough. Brenn was first in and engaged them in melee with Macallum ablaze. He cut deeply into Karg’s leg but the giant seemed more annoyed than anything. Templeton then snuck out of the shadows to cast a spell of Tasha’s Hideous Laughter on Maul who promptly failed his save and fell to the ground overcome with laughter.

Everyone else in the party focused their attacks on Karg as Maul continued to roll around on the floor overcome with laughter. Karg got some good licks with his huge club on Brenn before he went down, but down he went. As the giant died, he fell over and blocked the doorway into the room. Brenn pushed with all his might but could not budge the giant corpse out of the way. And Maul finally made his save against the Templeton’s spell and got himself up off the floor.

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With Brenn cut off from the rest of the party and trapped inside with the giant, everyone knew they had to get int fast. So Quintus used his Claws of the Umberhulk to cut his way through the rock of the passage and make a new hallway around the blocked door. Everyone poured into the room and attacked Maul. He finally went down after another big fight. There were strange halls of glowing purple crystal in this room and some treasure being guarded by the giants. A Mummified Human Head, 160 GP, 22 PP, 3 red spirals worth 100 GP each, and 1 fire amethyst worth 150 GP. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

North of this room was a dusty place with mining carts and tracks set into the floor. A thick layer of dust indicated it had not been traversed in a very long time. Brenn was first into the room once more and was surprised by 4 spectral hands reaching up out of the floor to attack him. The hands were attached to specters. Brenn shuddered as he felt the cold and dark hands send waves of necrotic energy through his body. But he managed to resist the other nasty effects of the undead creatures.

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Quintus stormed into the room and bestow the love of Tempus upon the specters. The specters all sunk into the floor in retreat. Their unholy beings could not stand before the might of Tempus. Since this section of the cavern system was as old as the Bessilmir Dwarves and did not seem to have been used since then, other areas were searched in looking for more recent cultist activities.

One room had an ancient dwarven sarcophagus with strange dwarvish runes on it. Since no one spoke or read dwarvish, Puck cast a read languages spell that made the words clear as day to him. It read:

Bow your head and remember valor.

Each party member bowed their heads and remembered a time when they were valorous, Each party member was rewarded with a 5th level Aid spell as the sarcophagus glowed in holy light. A gift from the ancient dwarves was happily received.

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North of that room was a room with a huge obsidian staircase leading up into the darkness. Badding thought it most likely connected to the large staircase they had encountered further up in the complex that was guarded by several earth elemental marauders. It seemed that the only way forward was through the black mist.

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Temptations To Touch
It's Evil Don't Touch It.

In the northern end of the prison, Quintus cast a dispel magic on the inky black cloud that blocked the passage. It vanished forced out of existence by the power of Tempus. But was seen to slowly start to fill back in. Before it could do so completely, however, the party ran though the passage. The saw a short hallway leading to a large room with a green glowing metal rod on the floor. Bodies were also strewn about. One was clearly a water cultist. Others were irrecognizable due to the damage upon their bodies.

Templeton snuck carefully forward in the shadows. He created an illusion of himself standing out n the room examining one of the bodies. Nothing happened. He used his mage hand to lift the glowing green rod high into the air. But its light did not reach high enough to reveal everything in the shadows above. Then everyone in the party heard a strange song it was eerily beautiful and bewitching. It was sweet music to Templeton’s ears. He felt compelled to move forward and try to find what was making such beautiful song. Everyone else in the party thought it strange music but were not compelled in any way. Just then Templeton saw something that caught his attention. A human woman flew through the room and down the hallway. To Templeton she looked like a vision. He had to meet her. All stealth was thrown to the wayside and Templeton ran after her in speedy pursuit. The green rod dropped behind him forgotten.

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Brenn frowned. That was odd. Why would Templeton run down the hall without moving in a stealthy fashion? That just was not like him. Brenn turned to Badding next to him and asked him what he thought. Badding squawked and flew into the room after Templeton. In about the middle of the room, two harpies flew out from the shadows from above to attack him. The two harpies surrounded Badding and tore into him with their razor sharp talons and claws.

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Templeton raced after the gorgeous woman. As he got closer he noticed that she was floating over a large pit but somehow he didn’t care. He still wanted to get to her. The music filled him with such joy and lust. He simply had to be with her no matter what. Back in the main room Brenn came running out and was battling the harpies with Badding. Quintus and Puck were coming up to give Badding support. Brenn shook his head. Renton Daltrey would not be pleased if his son was killed by a bloody harpy. Brenn heaved a large sigh and yelled out in to the darkness, ‘You are not leaving me to your father’s wrath you little bastard!’ and he ran off down the tunnel Templeton had fled.

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Brenn arrived just in time to see Templeton with a glazed look in his face running straight towards a very large pit with a harpy flying above it. Using his action surge and his high mobility, Brenn sprinted past Templeton to put himself between the crazed little man and his impending fall down the pit. Templeton didn’t appreciate Brenn’s concern and tried to dodge past him using an acrobatic maneuver. He simply had to get to that beautiful woman. Brenn responded with a shield bash to the chest of Templeton, knocking him off his feet and down to the ground.

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Templeton shook his head, perhaps the blow from Brenn’s shield had knocked some sense into him. But he somehow was no longer under the harpy’s spell. Shaking his head in disbelief he saw the harpy in her true form and recoiled. How could he have been so stupid. Seeing that the little man was no longer under her spell, the harpy’s song changed to a high pitched shriek as she swooped in to attack Brenn, the interloper. As the harpy and Brenn trade blows, Templeton picked himself up off the ground, dusted himself off, raised Sky Piercer up, and squeezed off a bolt that smashed into the harpy’s chest.

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All three of the harpies were slain and Templeton thanked Brenn for saving his life. Brenn shrugged and said he would add it to his tally of what he was owed. Templeton told him not to worry, ‘The Daltrey’s always pay their debts.’ Brenn shook his head. ‘If I hear you say that again it will be too soon.’

Badding used the glowing green rod to illuminate his way and flew up to investigate the ceiling of the room. He found it was about 80 feet up and there were ledges with harpy nests. A quick search revealed 560 SP and 220 GP. There was a gold bracelet worth 50 GP, a silver ewer worth 10 GP, 2 skull earrings worth 50 GP each, and a Potion of Superior Healing. In addition to the glowing green rod 5 backpacks were on bodies in the room that were magical. They have the power to use levitate and feather fall. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.

Next the party encountered a room strewn with debris and a large pillar with a glowing orb atop it. Templeton tried to use his mage hand to lift the orb up off the pillar. As soon as he did so, a maelstrom began to swirl around the pillar. Four rusty swords animated and flew over to attack. The party attacked and destroyed them and then tried to get the orb again. This time Quintus and Puck got caught up int the maelstrom and were swirling round the room. Puck teleported to safety and Quintus was hauled out by Badding.

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With this section of the area cleared it seemed only one section remained – going to the fungi room. But first the party returned to the hidey hole that Quyintus had tunneled out of solid rock with his Claws of the Umberhulk. They checked up on Don to make sure he was OK and took a short rest before pressing on.

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A Day in the Life of Drexa, The Lizard King...
His Last Day...

It was a most unremarkable day. Drexa stretched his long scaly legs over his magnificent throne. The pile of boulders propping up the basic chiseled stone high backed chair raised the seat of his authority to a dominating height in the room. Drexa was proud of his stonemason, Bularg. To be able to work stone in such a way as to craft an actual seat was a truly amazing piece of technology. What Bularg could do with stone was unmatched by any of the other lizard folk Drexa knew. Bularg’s skill increased Drexa’s status and he liked that.

Gripping the sides of his throne with his sharp claws, the Lizard King shifted his heavy frame to one side of his chair and looked out over his subjects. Nine of his lizard folk stood at attention spread out through the room. They all carried heavy war clubs. They were strong and battle hardened warriors. Drexa liked that. Strong followers made a strong king. And Drexa knew in his heart that he was a strong king.

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Drexa grasped the heavy gold chain around his neck and absently traced his claws through its golden links. The chain was a token of his station. It was a mark of his authority as King. Being King wasn’t easy. Many warriors had tried to unseat Drexa and he had the scars to prove it. But these usurpers were no match for The Lizard King. A fond memory passed through Drexa’s mind of him in his younger days challenging the old king, Deeth. Deeth was strong but had become slow in his old age. Drexa remembered moving quickly past his guard and driving his spear into the old lizard’s heart. Drexa worked hard to keep his strength and his quickness up so as to avoid the fate of King’s before him. So far it had worked well.

Drexa wanted better for his people. He led them out of the swamps and into a series of caverns built by the short bearded ones long ago. It was a safe place to raise a family and prosper as a community. Then one day the humans arrived. Drexa generally did not like humans but these were somehow able to speak the language of his people. They offered gold and riches in exchange for free passage through Drexa’s lands and safety from his people. The Lizard King liked this arrangement. It was a good alliance.

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Strange chanting broke Drexa out of his reverie. He gazed down upon Sleeslack, the Shaman, who was casting the bones. Sleeslack stared intently trying to properly divine what they foretold. ‘Ill omens, my Lord. The bones tell me what we already know. Your scouts are long overdue. They should have returned down the staircase some time ago.’

Drexa frowned, ‘Sleeslack you worry unnecessarily. The humans have been good to us. The alliance is strong. They would not dare to move against Drexa. The scouts will return soon enough. Have patience. Good things come to those who wait.’

The fire erupted without warning. A powerful fiery blast which burned away and blackened scales, melted eyes, and sucked the wind out of lungs. Gasping for air, Drexa looked around his royal chamber seeing the charred remains of his loyal followers scattered across the floor. He opened his mouth to rally his shaken lizard folk when a heavy shaft of wood tipped in iron hurtled out of the darkness, flew right into his mouth, and pierced the back of his skull. Drexa felt his blood pouring down his face and neck – flowing over his burnt and ruined scales.

A human man moved swiftly into the room from the south. He seemed to have metal skin and wielded a flaming sword and a shield. At last a target upon which Drexa could unleash his considerable fury. He moved forward and unleashed a flurry of claws and teeth upon this puny human. But this one moved well bringing his shield up to fend off one set of claws and teeth. But Drexa snaked his body around thrust another claw forward. He had used the same gambit to pierce many a human warrior with metal skin. But this one’s skin was strong. Somehow it turned his blow aside.

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The human grinned as he swung his flaming sword in a wide arc cutting deep into Drexa’s torso. The Lizard King felt another of those accursed bolts bury itself deep in his midsection. Drexa could feel his strength begin to fade as a feathered creature flew past him and struck him on the side of the head with a flaming spiked metal ball causing his head to spin. Drexa fell backwards and came to rest wearily on his throne. As his life ebbed away he saw every last one of his lizard folk cut down and burned. Crafty Sleeslack made the metal man’s skin red hot. But Drexa’s smile was cut short as another bolt flew out of the darkness to burrow deep into the shaman’s face and knock his lifeless body across the cold stone floor.

All went quiet. Drexa tried to move but could not. His vision was ringed in darkness like a tunnel getting more and more narrow. And as his last raspy breath escaped his lips, he saw a small shape melt out of the shadows. The little human took Drexa’s heavy gold chain from around his neck and dropped it into his bag as if it were naught but a trinket. What remarkable day it turned out be in fact. Everything went black.

Having dealt with the lizard folk, the party turned their attention to areas north and southeast. To the north was a large waterfall and a room filled with fungi. To the southeast was a large room filled with mist. Templeton was smart enough to have Brenn check the floor as they crept in and they found that it dropped away in the middle of the room below the mist. It could have been a nasty fall. Chained to the walls of this room, the party found 3 prisoners. Two were captured fire cultists. One seemed to be some kind of local. All three were in real bad shape. Badding used some lay on hands magic to heal the wounds of the local fellow. He turned out to be named Don and made a living sailing a boat up and down the Dessarin. He was kidnapped by water cultists and somehow wound up here. But he had no information about this place. The fire cultists were tricked for a bit by Templeton until he discovered they knew nothing and tired of them. They were left to rot.

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Quintus made another safehouse by using his Claws of the Umberhulk to create a burrow. And Puck cast a Leomund’s Secure Shelter. Don was given food, water, and a spear and told to wait there until we returned. It was too dangerous to try and make it to the surface alone. And even more dangerous to come with us.

There were three choices of where to go next: the mushroom cave to the north, the magical darkness beyond the prison cave, or the large cave strewn with empty pieces of equipment to the west.

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Squeezing the Last of the Water Out of the Cult

The water weirds swarmed around Quintus. One of them slammed into him and flowed around his body, grappling him in a strange way by coating him in water and holding fast. Templeton quickly used his Helm of Telepathy to reach out and make contact with the water weird. The language and thoughts of the elemental creature was extremely foreign to Templeton. But he did his best to communicate with the creature by sending images of the water weird releasing Quintus and then Quintus releasing it into a large body of water so that it could escape the confine of the barrel that currently contained it. It took a few rounds of explaining while Quintus was very patient but one by one Templeton bartered a deal with each of the three Water Weirds to stand down and return to their barrels in exchange for their freedom. After all the creatures submerged peacefully into their barrels, true to his word, Templeton instructed Quintus and Brenn to pick up the barrels and dump the contents into the flowing underground river. Each water weird disappeared into the water and swam away.

The group then returned to their hidey hole that had been carved out of the solid rock by Quintus and his Claws of the Umberhulk. There they took refuge for an extended rest. There was plenty of time for Puck to scribe a Melf’s Minute Meteors spell into his spellbook. Templeton took the time reviewing the documents secured from Gar Shatterkeel apartments.

The letters that gathered did not shine any more light onto the situation underground. However, a clearly recent letter notes the following:

Refugees have been shuffling down from the hills north of Beliard. Some wear the white robes and black-feathered cowls of air cultists, while others are dressed as our own. Each person bears a placard around his or her neck, reading ‘I am punished.’

The short, circumspect conversations I have been able to get, suggest the name Haayon the Punisher – some sort of enormous giant. She seems to be gathering stragglers… and placarding those she deems unworthy.

After further investigation, Templeton found a partially penned, unsent letter that seems to be in reference to the previous letter.

Haayon is testing us. She will be dealt with. Keep us apprised of any changes in the situation…. It is of no worry at the moment….

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With the rest completed the party decided to finish cleaning out the entire level. So they returned to the large lake where they had previously spied some tentacles. Quintus used his lower water spell to shunt the deep water off to the side revealing a huge octopus that fell to the ground in a giant spot some 20 feet below to the now waterless cave floor. But it was still very much alive. Badding cast a spell summoning a moonbeam to burn radiant light into its massive body. The huge creature used its tentacles to pull itself close to the cliff face where the party was waiting for it. As it came up over the edge, Quintus hit it with a flame strike, Templeton fired bolts into it, Puck blasted it with fire bolts, and Brenn carved it up with his fiery blade.

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After the octopus was slain, Quintus exposed the entire floor of the sea cave. Nought but bones was revealed. Remembering the previously encountered ghouls to the south, the party moved to strike them next. Brenn cautiously moved in and quickly found two ghouls charging out to attack him.The party made quick work of those two and Brenn pushed deeper inside to find 9 ghouls in all surround him. Badding ran up in support but both Brenn and Badding were quickly overwhelmed by the ghouls paralysis. They both went down under the claws of the ghouls. The ghouls even tied their paralyzed bodies to a rope and pushed a heavy rock on the other end into water filled silos. Both Brenn and Badding would have surely drown if not for Quintus water walk spell that had previously been cast on them. As the rope went taught to pull them under, they just floated on the top of the water unable to go below.

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Quintus turned the ghouls and they began to flee. Then Puck hurled a fireball inside the room to burn them badly while Brenn and Badding cleaned them up with melee attacks. With every last inch of the complex explored, the party finally descended down the stairs to the next level.

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