Apocalyptica

The Water Node Closed
Gar Shatterkeel Slain... Twice!

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The battle with Gar Shatterkeel raged on. Badding had taken the brunt of the attacks. Gar had crushed him with his giant claw arm, pierced his body with his trident – Drown, and commanded his giant crocodile to grab him in his jaws and shake him like a rag doll. Badding’s tattered body was bleeding profusely with the brave paladin just barely clinging to life. Just as he was about to lose consciousness, Quintus’ voice rang out through the huge cavern, ‘Tempus I know you never listened to me before and you’d rather me swing my sword than talk, but in your name I call on you to heal this mighty birdman in order for him to kick more ass in your name!’

Suddenly Quintus was wreathed in a holy nimbus. Surprised that his divine intervention had worked, he called out, ‘Holy Crap I think he heard me this time!’ The radiant nimbus drifted away from Quintus and coalesced around Badding. The holy light bathed Badding and washed away all of his wounds. The light buoyed him and he floated up into the air to hover right in front of Gar Shatterkeel who’s smug smile had turned upside down into a dour frown.

Suddenly a flaming blade came slashing through Gar’s guard as Brenn Buckman cut deeply into Gar’s barnacle encrusted chest. Gar grimaced and raised his huge claw above his head to strike Brenn, when the crafty fighter called out to Templeton to fire. Templeton obliged the commander’s strike and let a bolt fly that critically hit Gar shattering his claw into a myriad pieces that rained down onto the wet rocky island. Howling in pain and fury Gar thrusted Drown towards Brenn. But Brenn was faster knocking the trident aside with a riposte spinning around and thrusting the burning blade of Macallan straight through the chest of Gar Shatterkeel. In a moment of brief silence in the din of battle, Gar stared at his chest in disbelief and then up to the grinning Brenn Buckman until the silence was broken with the clattering clang of Drown falling upon the rocky shore of the island. Gar’s body then slowly slid off the blade and fell into a heap on the rocky island.

There were still two water elementals and three giant crocodiles left to deal with but the tide had definitely turned in the party’s favor with the healing of Badding and the death of Gar. But the grin on Bren’s face faded away as he looked over his shoulder and into the writhing mass of the roiling sphere of water floating in the center of the island. There was a shape inside.. A huge shape of something trying to get out. Suddenly a massive pulse of necrotic energy exploded out of the watery sphere. The necrotic energy tore through Brenn Buckman and everyone else including the water elementals and the crocodiles. The only one who was spared was Templeton as he was outside of the 60 foot radius around the sphere. The force of the pulse sent Drown flying through the air to splash into the water below the flying Templeton. Everyone was hurt badly but Brenn took the worst of it. His lifeless body was hurled clear of the island to land hard on the water buoyed only by the persistent water walking enchantment. Two of the crocodiles were ripped apart by the blast leaving only one remaining.

Then there was a loud crack as if a piece of reality had broken free around the water sphere. A black tendril of negative energy emerged from the crack and snaked its way through the air to touch the body of Gar Shatterkeel. Smaller black tendrils wended their way through Gar’s body forming a thin mesh around his skin. The thick black tendril then lifted Gar’s body from the ground like a macabre puppet. This fell marionette was hoisted aloft and moved in front of Quintus. The Gar puppet lashed out with his reformed claw and smashed it into Quintus. The blow staggered the cleric and his concentration on his banishment spell was lost. The water elemental he had previously sent to the elemental plane of water suddenly returned. Now there were three water elementals again to defeat along with one crocodile and the Gar puppet.

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Puck unleashed a cone of cold and an ice storm wearing down all of the enemies, Badding attacked, and Templeton put a heavy crossbow bolt straight through the Gar Pupet’s chest but it didn’t slow him. Water pumped through the black tendril filled in the damaged parts of Gar’s body and he fought on. ‘The Tendril!’ yelled Templeton. ‘Sever the tendril!’ Badding flew over and attacked with a holy smite trying to sever the tendril. But the only part of the attack that seemed to anything was the radiant damage from the smite. Quintus grasped the hilt of his sunsword and a beam of pure light shone forth forming the greatsword’s blade. With that he struck at the black tendril. All of his damage was radiant and a huge chunk of the tendril fell away. But the Gar puppet fought on.

Templeton flew down to the body of Brenn Buckman and poured his last potion of healing down the man’s throat. As Brenn came round Templeton whispered, ‘There we go… Everything’s better with some wine in the belly. Now let’s get you back in this fight.’ Bren smiled and used his second wind. ‘Aye!’ He got up and cut the head off the giant crocodile. Puck bathed all the enemies in a toxic acid from his vitriolic sphere spell. Badding cut down a water elemental. But the two remaining water elemental bore down on Brenn and almost took him out again but he fought on bravely taking them out. Quintus then delivered a wicked blow to the black tendril and severed it completely with his sun blade. The black tendril fell away to water and the body of Gar Shatterkeel also melted away to be slain for a second time.

There was a furious keening noise and a huge thick fleshy tentacle burst forth from the elemental node. It seemed Al-Hydra the Evil Elemental Prince of Water had taken a foothold in this world and was trying to come through the portal. The huge tentacle and smashed into Brenn knocking him out and sending Templeton flying as well. A second tentacle then broke free of the sphere, picked up the dead crocodile and hurled it at Quintus hurting him badly as its crushing weight landed directly on top of him.

Badding screamed out, ‘Squaawk!!! We must get the trident Drown from the bottom of the lake and use it to close the portal!’ Templeton and Quintus moved away from the writhing tentacles to rendezvous with the Badding and Puck where Templeton had seen the trident fall into the water. Badding who was flying high above the water with Puck in tow suddenly dropped Puck since he was the only one who did not have a water walk spell going and could swim. But Puck who was badly wounded yelled, ‘wait… what?’ And as his little body fell towards the dark waters below, he managed in a disrespectful manner as possible to raise both middle fingers towards the bird man flying above him. Then he hit the water and promptly refused to try and swim through the mirky blackness in his current state.

Templeton fetched the Ring of Swimming from Brenn’s limp fingers and raced over to the gnome. And Badding used his Light Globe to shed some light on the depths below. With the swim speed and light to guide his way, Puck finally acquiesced as a third tentacle burst forth from the sphere. Two of the tentacles plunged into the water and began sucking up water like an elephant’s trunk. As Puck frantically searched the bottom for the trident, the tentacles blew out the water at a firehouse velocity. The streams of water smashed into Badding and Quintus hurting them badly. Finally Puck found the trident. He grasped it and felt Drown tug on his mind. But the gnome was prepared and had girded himself, he swam quickly up to within 30 feet of Templeton who whisked the trident up and away and into his bag of holding.

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With Drown in an extra-dimensional place in the bag of holding, Templeton thought its ability to summon Al-Hydra would be broken. He glanced up at the writhing tentacles, but hope soon drained from his face as they continued to push their way out. Badding yelled, ‘Let me use it. It is my destiny!’ Templeton and Puck looked warily at the paladin who had already let one relic take control of him. Badding had almost run away with Wind Vein. Templeton suggested strongly that Quintus take the trident. Badding agreed and lent his aid to the cleric’s resolve.

Quintus reached into the bag of holding and brought forth Drown. He raised it over his head but before he could do anything else three streams of high pressure water cut into him from the tentacles. He dropped the trident as he fell into unconsciousness into the water below. Badding grasped Drown in his talons as it fell from Quintus’ hands. Badding raised the trident above his head and yelled, ‘At Last! My Destiny will be fulfilled!’

Templeotn and Puck looked at each other with worried looks as Badding pointed the trident at the sphere of tentacles and yelled, ‘Go Back from whence you came. This Portal is Closed!’ But nothing happened, the tentacles continued to push their way through. Templeton through up his hands in frustration but Badding was undeterred by his failure. With a mighty flap of his wings he flew into the air, swerved around a lashing tentacle and thrust the trident directly into the watery sphere. Drown was ripped from Badding’s hands and sucked into the sphere. The tentacles suddenly sucked back through the cracks in the sphere and the entire sphere itself shrunk to half its size and then exploded outwards in a huge blast of magic.

The force of the blast pushed Templeton and Puck away and forced them to look away. When they looked back they saw the watery sphere in the center of the island was gone with no sign of Al-Hydra. But Badding was lying in a puddle of blood on the edge of the island. Puck and Templeton looked at each other and slowly exhaled as a strange quietness fell over the water filled cavern. Templeton ran over and used his healer’s kit to bind the brave paladin’s wounds. Puck brought Brenn and Quintus bodies over to the island. Both had been saved by their Periapt of Wound Closure. Puck performed a ritual casting of Leomund’s Hut and the two began nursing their fallen comrades back to health and studying their spells. For they both agreed Vanifer and the fire cult must be next.

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Gar Shatterkeel Found
A Return to Sanity for Templeton

After making contact with the 2 dark tide knights mounted on water weirds while chasing after One-Eyed Shiver, Bren closed for melee. Brenn did a great job of holding the creatures at bay while damaging them with his flaming sword. Puck used a Cone of Cold to freeze them and Badding used a moonbeam spell to burn holy radiance into them. Templeton continued to babble incoherently, he struggled against his bonds, but could not escape the ropes that Quintus bound him. Quintus pulled Templeton along by his rope tether and tried to get into the fight but had to settle for bathing a knight in sacred flame.

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One-Eyed Shiver surfaced and cast a spell of fear on Brenn but he resisted its effects. Puck then followed up with an icestorm spell that sent its spell effects deep into the water and managed to hit not only the dark tide knights and their water weird mounts, but also the One-Eyed Shiver who was lurking under the water. The Ice Storm’s myriad shards of ice tore through the Shiver’s body, it went limp and floated up to the surface.

Quintus used destroy water to take a big chunk out of the water weird and Badding consistently re=positioned his Moonbeam to bathe his moving enemies in damaging moonlight. Puck used frost bite to kill the remaining water weird and the only remaining dark tide knight swam away to the south. Brenn gave chase into a large room with a stone island closed in by a door. Badding guessed where the final foe had gone and directed his moonbeam to that location. His excellent guess paid dividends as the moonbeam killed the final dark tide knight.

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Badding searched the stone hut only to find some cots and basic equipment. Quintus collected the now drooling Templeton who was staring off into space. Some in the party were very hurt and Templeton was clearly not right in the head. The party decided to hole up and rest. Quintus got to work in the northwest corner of the room with his Claws of the Umberhulk. But instead of creating a safe place to rest, he dug through into a different section of the complex with a huge collection of wrecked ships and a driving rain. Not wanting to go looking for any more trouble just yet, Quintus started burrowing a new tunnel in the northeast section of the cave and created a nice spot to rest. Rest did everyone some good, especially Templeton who calmed down and managed to return to a sound mind. He was still quite shaken and he still wasn’t exactly sure what had happened but remember it all like a bad dream. He was glad to feel somewhat more like himself than before, however.

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The party decided to send Puck’s Owl familiar, Widget, to investigate the passageway to the southeast. Badding flew closer with Puck in his harness in order to properly see through his familiar’s eyes. The tunnel dropped down a 50 foot waterfall and into a huge water filled room with a stone island. Pulsing upon the island was a huge Globe of Water. And standing in front of the water globe was a strange looking man covered in barnacles with a huge crab claw instead of one hand and the other hand tightly gripping a glowing trident.

Puck instantly recognized the barnacle covered man as Gar Shatterkeel. He told everyone via Rary’s Telepathic bond that Gar was in there seemingly alone trying to summon Al-Hydra, prince of elemental water, using his trident, Drown. Badding reacted immediately by flying straight into the room and across the water towards Gar and warding himself with a shield of faith spell.

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With a clack of his crab claw, Gar Shatterkeel unleashed a bolt of lightning that tore through Puck and Badding. Puck responded by teleporting onto the rock island directly adjacent. Badding swooped in and attacked Gar in melee. Suddenly three huge water elementals surfaced and attacked Puck and Badding. Gar himself cast powerful spells but each time Puck counter-spelled them. Templeton moved closer and cast a spell of invisibility on himself. Brenn moved forward as well trying to get into the fight. Everyone then heard a loud shouting of a prayer to Tempus and Quintus came jumping down the waterfall and into the room. He ran across the water and cast a banishment spell on one of the water elementals. It hurtled back to the elemental plane of water leaving only 2 water elementals left protecting Gar Shatterkeel.

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Brenn flew into the room over the water fall using his Wingwear. Templeton followed suit but veered off to the right as soon as he flew into the larger room staying as aloft as possible. Invisible, He had advantage as he aimed carefully through the melee and gently stroked the trigger of Sky Piercer. The advantage paid off as the heavy bolt flew through the air and smashed into Gar Shatterkeel’s claw cracking it and forcing him to cry out in great pain. The critical hit was followed up by another deadly attack when Brenn used his commander’s strike to urge Templeton to shoot again. Brenn then reached the melee and began to attack Gar Shatterkeel with a dizzying array of attacks by using his action surge. He tried to use his goading attack to get Gar to only attack him, but the calm Gar Shatterkeel kept on attacking Badding who was really hurt.

Suddenly three giant crocodiles surfaced. One reached Badding and chewed him up but good and kept him clenched in his jaws like a rag doll. Puck unleashed an Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere that froze the water encasing the crocs in ice. All three were stuck in place but the one already had Badding in his jaws and continued to rend him by tossing his body from side to side.

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On to the Water Cult
Templeton Goes Insane

With Marlos defeated and Ironfang in the party’s possession, there was talk about trying to use it to destroy the The Black Geode. In the end, all agreed that it would take too long to prepare the proper spells and that the more pressing situation was to collect the other two artifacts to prevent the summoning of the any of the elemental princes. The destruction of the nodes could wait.

So the party made their way back up to the Fane of the Eye and over to the rushing water section. They tied everyone together with Brenn’s magic Rope of Climbing and Quintus at the end of the rope had the Templeton’s Immovable Rod to stop them sinking if it turned out to be deeper than expected. Quintus cast the ritual water breathing spell on everyone and down into the water they went led by Brenn Buckman.

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Deep below the water they found an underwater passage that led to another room with air in it and more stone steps. Two passages led out of the room. One to the northeast and the other to the northwest. A small skiff was moored at the foot of the stairs with a push pole in it. Also a strange 7 foot diameter ball of water hovered in place, hovering about 1 foot above the rest of the water in the room.

Quintus cast a water walk ritual on everyone but Puck. Puck got into the skiff and again using the rope the party began moving through the northeast passage. Puck also cast detect magic on the sphere of water. He found it to be magical and transmutation magic.

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The currents and eddies in the water made moving across it while water walking tricky. But the party got the hang of it and managed to avoid a waterfall and find a room filled with a large iron cage in the middle of it. A number of water cultists were trapped in the cage. They had the water cult mark tattooed on their forehead. Some were alive with their heads barely sticking out of the cage while others floated in the water seemingly already dead.

The cultists called out for help saying something similar to ‘We have displeased It. And It put us in this cage.’ Further questioning yielded no more useful information. As soon as they realized the party was not with the water cult, they clammed up and said no more.

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One strange thing that happened was that while in the room Templeton had a sudden vision of unnerving symbols on the walls and a strange alien looking altar. But he soon regained his composure. When he tried to use his helm of telepathy to read the minds of the trapped cultists, he found them completely blank. Strange indeed, so the party moved on leaving the cultists to their fate. Badding used his detect evil ability and could sense two ghouls within 60 feet to the southeast. So the party left the boat moored outside this room and negotiated going down the waterfall.

Badding carried Puck and flew down to secure the area. Then Brenn used his rope of climbing to rappel down. Templeton followed suit but got caught up in the swirling waters of the waterfall. He wasn’t sinking thanks to the water walking spell, but he did not have the strength to pull himself out. Quintus rappelled down as well and together with Bren, the hauled the little man out of the waterfall and set him on his way.

Further on Brenn encountered a host of ice mephits and One-Eyed Shiver sitting on a throne. But just before the battle with them began, Templeton inexplicably turned to Quintus are shot him with his crossbow. Thus began Templeton’s descent into madness. He went from fighting the party to babbling nonsensically, to sitting quietly and staring off into space, to yelling to get these things out of his head, to weeping uncontrollably.

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The Ice Mephits surrounded Brenn, but he kept looking back at Templeton and yelled, Quintus you have to help Templeton. I can’t bring him back to his father like that. Quintus was quite concerned about the little guy. He tried casting a 4th level dispel magic on Templeton but it seemed to have no effect on his madness. Brenn growled and swung three times cutting into the three ice mephits adjacent to him and then maneuvered safely back to a choke point in the cave. He grinned to Puck, ‘Light ’em up’.

Puck complied unleashing a fireball on the ice mephits. All eight of them were vulnerable to fire so whether or not they saved, they all turned to steam and were destroyed. Badding grappled Templeton holding him tightly while Quintus pulled the Helm of Telepathy off his head to try and help but it also did little to heal his madness. So Quintus tied Templeton up with his rope and dragged him along with him to try and sort out his affliction later.

The shiver moved up and tried to use some sort of fear attack on Puck, Badding, and Brenn, but they were warded against it by Badding’s paladin aura and were unaffected. One-Eyed Shiver then withdrew diving into the water and swam away.

Brenn followed around the next bend in the tunnel and saw two water cult knights riding water weirds. There was also a small room on an island they seemed to be guarding.

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Marlos Falls
Ironfang Won

The battle with Marlos Urnrayle raged on across a huge battlefield. Puck had used his magic to close the gap and be adjacent to Marlos in a bold maneuver. Brenn was speedily working his way forward, Templeton was sliding through the very earth itself with his earthglide spell scroll and lurking in the shadows, and Badding and Quintus were stuck in the earthquake zone that Marlos had produced.

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Earth cultists and Gargoyles tried to slow down Brenn but he hacked into them with his flaming longsword and sped past them. The snakes upon the head of Marlos bit deeply into Puck poisoning him. Puck also felt the gaze of the medusa upon him. A huge swing from Ironfang barely missed the wee gnome’s head. Hurt badly, Puck knew that caution was the better part of valor. He teleported away from Marlos and hid behind one of the huge columns in the room. Badding fell into a fissure that opened up beneath him due to the earthquake spell. He managed to fly up and out into the larger room. Quintus fell into a fissure as well but used his ring of jumping to get out. The difficult terrain slowed him down, however, and he still did not make it into the room.

A huge earth elemental surfaced and made a bee line for Templeton. But Templeton fired at Marlos with a sneak attack. The gargoyles and cultists caught up and surrounded Brenn. But Puck unleashed two fireballs to turn them into charred and dusty remains. Brenn made it to Marlos and unleashed a huge volley of attacks – 6 in fact – by using his action surge. He also used his commander’s strike to allow Templeton to fire sneak attacks on his reaction. Marlos took a lot of damage but he commanded the every earth to well up around him and wash away some of his wounds so he could fight on.

Badding flew down and hurled javelins at Marlos from on high. He also warded Brenn with a shield of faith. This added to Brenn’s already very high AC making him difficult to hit. That was good since almost all the attacks were directed at him. Quintus finally made it into the room and was standing next to Templeton and the earth elemental. Instead of attacking, the elemental summoned another earth elemental. So now there were two of them.

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Brenn continued to unleash all his attacks on Marlos as did Templeton and Puck. Badding attacked as well but unfortunately caught the direct gaze of Marlos. He felt his skin begin to tighten, his body slow. He suddenly couldn’t move and dropped out of the sky to land hard on the stone below. Badding tried hard to resist but he could not. His body turned to stone finally succumbing to the Medusa’s gaze.

Quintus had had enough. He screamed the holy name of Tempus as he used his ring of jumping to hurtle through the air with his Great Sunblade held aloft. As he came down to land next to Marlos he swung his sun blade in a mighty arc and cut the medusa clean in half. The two halves of his body quickly turned to pools of liquid as he melted away.

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Quintus then turned to face the two on coming earth elementals and cast a banishment spell. One of them was hurled back to the elemental plane of earth. The other was quickly laid low by Templeton’s bolts, Puck’s spells, and Brenn’s blade. With the battle won the party turned to Badding. They found his entire body had turned into a stone statue. Puck realized that the only way to bring him back was a greater restoration spell. Quintus did not have any. So Brenn carried the bird man’s body to the safe space and the party took a long rest so that Quintus could pray for new spells.

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Brenn had claimed Ironfang from the remains of Marlos as it had been identified by Puck to have great powers including +2 weapon, +2d8 thunder damage, resistance to acid damage, ability to speak Terran, Tremorsense out to 60 feet, shatter three times per day, and dominate monster on earth elementals once per day. During the rest Brenn attuned to the weapon and found himself liking it greatly. In fact it was urging him to be even more violent than he already was. But this wasn’t quite clear yet.

What was clear was that when Quintus removed the petrification and restored Badding to flesh, something in him seemed change. He was very upset that Brenn had claimed Ironfang. He had some harsh words to say about the party and suddenly ran off yelling something about using Wind Vein to open a gate. Puck sprang into action. He cast a Bigby’s Hand spell that grabbed the fleeing Aarokokra. Unable to escape the magical force of the hand, Badding tried to teleport away with misty step, but Puck counterspelled leaving him stuck in the grasp of the hand.

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Brenn then ran up and tried to reason with Badding asking him to drop wind vane. Failing that he really wanted to strike him, but instead tried to disarm Badding. But Badding was uncannily clutching tightly to the weapon. Templeton cast a suggestion spell telling Badding that it would be a very good idea to drop the weapon. But the obstinate bird resisted the magic. Quintus tried casting remove curse but it seemed to do no good. Again Badding tried to misty step away and Puck countered the spell. Brenn finally made a successful disarm attack, knocking Wind Vein to the ground. Templeton then quickly used his mage hand to pull it to him and put the weapon in his bag of holding.

With the weapon out of Badding’s hand and the bird man still firmly in the grasp of the Bigby’s Hand, Quintus cast greater restoration on Badding and it finally seemed to help the poor paladin. Immediately his demeanor changed and he apologized for his behavior claiming that wind vane had overcome him and forced him to behave in such ways. Templeton frowned. Seeing what had happened to poor Badding he asked Brenn quite nicely to please drop Ironfang. When Brenn did not comply Puck used his Bigby’s Hand to grasp the fighter. But it seemed that perhaps there had not been enough time for the Ironfang to fully take hold of Brenn. When asked again, Brenn complied and dropped the weapon. Using his mage hand, Templeton whisked the weapon away and into his bag of holding. Quintus used greater restoration to make sure the curse on Brenn if it remained was lifted.

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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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